Happy Pagan Coming Out Day…or not

That’s right folks! We’re going to follow in the steps of homosexuals everywhere and have a day where you feel pressured to reveal something deeply personal about your life to friends and family thus creating an implied tone of shame if you don’t!

Sarcastic enough for you?

Okay, in all truth I can understand why some pagans are skeptical about the concept of an “Out of the Broom Closet” day. We are, in many ways, a group which prides itself on the concept that religion should not be an overbearing force in ones life. It should be a spirituality, not an obligation, and is in general like this brilliant sign:

Image

So it seems a bit hypocritical that we pick a day to wave our pentacles around and make a spectacle of ourselves. I run into the same hypocrisy with myself when I go to gay pride festivals. We want to be seen as normal, average people in society but I’m not quite sure how speedos, rainbow flags, half naked women (yeah not complaining about that part too much) and roller-blades facilitates that end.

Yeah it’s shocker that a lot of pagans are posting today about how it isn’t necessary to share your faith with people like it’s open for discussion. But at the same time, how do we make people aware of who we are, what we are, and what we do without tipping our hands? How do we move into mainstream society (those of us who are interested) and become accepted without making a big fuss?

The problem comes from the fact that we live in a society of extremism. Our culture is overly fond of labeling so as to confirm a preset concept of who and what a person. We aren’t interested in deeper knowledge, developing an understanding or really getting to know one another. It’s so much easier to read the Cliff’s Notes version which will help you pass the test than to develop your own opinion.

Now that my rant is out of the way, lets’ get down to it. I do not come out of the broom closet unless specifically asked or unless the topic comes up in conversation. I don’t wear a pentacle (used to but found out that doesn’t swim too well in interviews) but I do wear a triquetra. I have an overall preference for the symbol because of the multiple means which can be derived from it plus people can see it as Catholic, Irish pride (which I do have :D) or the rare one will know what it means and offer me the usual Blessed Be.  When I do end up in a conversation about faith, I try to keep it to a minimum with the understanding of respect for both my faith and that of the others I discuss it with. 

That being said, I do like conversations about faith. I like getting past the whole proselytizing and preaching and get down to how people really feel. Understanding the differences between us and respecting them without altering who you are is a fundamental process.

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6 Responses to “Happy Pagan Coming Out Day…or not”

  1. Well said!! I love the sign, I was shrieking with laughter reading that!
    I agree with you, how many people do we truly know or know us?I wonder whether it’s the speed and quality of life or the fear of responsibility of deeply knowing someone that creates that glass barrier.
    I tend to be selective as I’m quite a private person, that said my interests are clear to those around me. I neither hide nor reveal all. I find reactions interesting though, even folks who profess no religious affinities will flinch momentarily as all the centuries of fear mongering flash through their mind.

  2. Your picture is not only pointed and succinct, but satirically humorous. I have found articles at “The Wild Hunt” about attempts to push Christianity in our public schools quite disturbing. Although all our children are “grown up,” we have two grandchildren in school in the South because of their Dad’s military career. For this reason, I cannot help but wonder if this is your picture, is it copyrighted, or (more to the point) can I use it?

    I do agree that there is value in “coming out.” Initially, this caused some problems when I fought my employers demand for unnecessary overtime because it interfered with my religious practices. While this was not the grounds that I eventually won that battle on, it brought Wicca and Paganism to the attention of the people working in a factory in a small rural town in northeastern Vermont. After the initial surprise, people adjusted and seem to just take it for granted now. I do think that my personal conduct has influenced that progression.

    I do not “wear my heart on my sleeve” as the old saying goes, but I do not hide who I am. I am a balding old man who sports a ponytail, pierced ears, and a tattoo that evokes curiosity (in warm weather.) It may not be all that unusual to some, but these things developed from the path that I walk. Very few have seen the stone I wear around my neck, or the elven star that I found myself irresistibly attracted to.

    The face of Bacchus (done in concrete and purchased locally at a garden shop) adorns the top of a wooden post in front of our home. Beneath that, I carved a pentacle in hope that it would keep religious peddlers away, but that didn’t work. I had to threaten the Mormons with a harassment complaint before they stopped coming. I am not sure if they are ignorant about the pentacle or if they viewed it as a challenge. Some of the neighbors recognized the pentacle, though.

    Most of the neighbors did not recognize Bacchus. Their primary complaint seemed to be that his tongue is sticking out, like it was meant to be a personal insult to them. This and the pentacle appear to have produced some complaints, but the more intelligent people that they complained to recognized Bacchus and the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. While the complaints amounted to nothing, that didn’t mean we wouldn’t still have problems with some neighbors.

    Bacchus and the pentacle seemed to quickly reveal who were the ignorant neighbors that we really should NOT want to associate with. In the process of trying to cause trouble for us, these people revealed their true nature to influential people and destroyed their own credibility. Apparently, it has been made clear to them (through those third parties) that, if they leave us alone, there will be no problems. Meanwhile, we get along fine with the rest of the neighborhood.

    I do not think it hurts to have one day of the year as a “coming out” for all the reasons given. However, I think it also helps when we “wear” our beliefs as a natural part of our being, day in and day out. Many will eventually become acclimated. Yes, there will also be those who will splutter, insult and protest, but look at the bright side; if their attention is focused on us, maybe they will leave the children alone! 😉

    • Thank you for the compliment. No the picture is not mine. I found it floating around the internet so feel free to grab it.

      As far as coming out goes, I do my best to make no bones about who and what I am. However, I am an early childcare provider and if people are hesitant around pagans they are 5x as such when it comes to their kids. It’s enough that they all realize sooner or later that I am gay, but hey lets add polytheism to that and you can end up with a fine little storm of intolerance and bullshit.

      It was kinda funny that you mentioned your neighborhood! A few weeks ago I was doing a small full moon ceremony outdoors. We don’t have much of a yard so I was doing it out front. Not only did my next door neighbors notice, but they oh so subtly came out of their house, stopped, looked at me, and then walked back in. *chuckle* What? You never seen a lady in a robe dancing around a fire with a Celtic short sword before? They haven’t treated me any different though, so it seems they were more interested than anything else. I don’t even want to imagine last Samhain when the closest I could get to a crossroad was at the corner of the intersection and the people slowed down and sped up frequently. *sigh* Urban paganism.

      I need to do something with my yard though. Mowing it more than once every 2 weeks would be a good start. Right now I just have a fire pit set up for sacrifices and marshmallow roasts.

      • I wholeheartedly recommend not starting a “fine little storm of intolerance and bullshit.” I am currently working on a piece about Paganism and reality. Realistically, you need to earn a living and I am sure your assessment of the child care field is quite accurate. Your’s is an example of how each person must assess their own situation realistically. I never had to worry about people being afraid that I would sacrifice production machinery in a pagan ritual… or whatever those silly fearful people imagine. I suspect you are making a wise decision.

  3. It’s an interesting thing about being “out.” I am much more okay with being out about my religion than I do about anything sexual. Who knows why.

    On a completely different topic, how did you get the fb widget to post in your sidebar? I never can get that app to work for me.

    Soli

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