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Posted: Sep. 8, 2002
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Question of the Week: 4 - 8/27/2000
The Broomcloset-In or Out?... What's YOUR View?
Some Pagans feel that it might be better if everyone Pagan was just open about their beliefs. Some, on the other hand, are sick of 'in your face' Pagans or groups. Others feel that in some areas of the country being "in" is almost a necessity. But we've also heard some background grumbling that expresses rather resentfully that those who remain hidden are simply reaping the benefits earned-while experiencing none of the backlash-by those who are openly fighting for pagan rights.
The apprehension of what the impact of openly declaring a pagan belief might be on a family or work relationship is as much a concern in the decision-making process as what the reaction of a neighborhood or community might be in other cases. So, are YOU in or out? How far out is 'too far' out? What are the pitfalls or the rewards? Why should everyone be out, in, or just make his or her own decision about the broomcloset occupancy rate.
| Reponses: There are 181 responses posted to this question.
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| I Truly Believe All Pagans Should Be Proud And Be Able To... ||Aug 27th. at 8:55:38 pm EDT|
|Siryn Dolphinsong (Albany, Georgia US) ||Age: 34 - Email |
I truly believe all pagans should be proud and be able to express it. Unfortunately I don't believe it's possible everywhere. For myself, my work, some friends and my husband know. My husband is also pagan but I have no family left and his family are Southern salvationists, so we don't express our religion to them. I luckily have a harrassment agreement at work therefore no one can exploit my belief system, my husband works for the state and in the school system so he can not have the same freedoms I do. I wish times were different and I argue my right everyday but I also know if my Southern Baptist landlord who happens to drive the church bus and keeps it at her home knew, I know I either would not be able to live here or she would make my life unbearable by preaching to me. I live on 20 acres of woods and peacefulness so why should I go out of my way to bring trouble to me? We still hold ceremonies under a full moon and no ones around but that wouldn't be the case if we were completely out of the broom closet. Now, if we lived where the Christian religion wasn't so exploited and we didn't know anyone we'd be out of the closet in a flash. We use the web for our networking and all study participants as well as members of the Circle that we meet with have a law or privacy and respect. We might come across a person that exposes us but we just be good folks and hope that day never comes. I know persecutions still exist I 've witnessed it so I never citicize a fellow brother or sister for remaining in the closet. Blessings All of You!
| This Is A Very Complex Question In That Individual Situations Vary. As... ||Aug 27th. at 11:53:59 pm EDT|
|Oriole (Milford, Connecticut US) ||Age: 44 |
This is a very complex question in that individual situations vary. As for myself, I am half way out, in that my mother knows of my beliefs but my wife does not. Well to clarify that, she thinks I am kidding when I say I am Pagan. But the point I'm trying to make is that things must be handled in the right fashion. For example I have children who's favorite books are Harry Potter and their favorite TV shows are "Sabrina the Teenage Witch" and "Buffy The Vampire Slayer". If they knew of my beliefs they would want to emulate me thinking that witches are cool. They are too young to realize the entire picture. I intend to be fully out some day but I realize it takes time to educate those who you want to know. That's the key, to educate.
| I Believe Each Person Must Make Their Own Choice Whether Or Not... ||Aug 28th. at 12:05:35 am EDT|
|Jennifer Reiff (Kingsport, Tennessee US) ||Age: 18 - Email |
I believe each person must make their own choice whether or not to be "out". In my case, the door is open, but i'm still in the closet. Being 18 and still relativly dependant on my parents (they're paying my way to college)I thought that they should know that I was Wiccan first. At first it went quite well -- they listened calmly as i explained i was a Witch and what it meant. They asked intelligent questions and seemed to understand it. Then Sunday came "Get up, it's time for church". Their chosen tatic to deal with their daughter becoming a Witch was to ignore it and hope it would go away. I took the hint and quietly faded into the background, wearing my pentacle under my shirt and hiding any books/tools/herbs in the depths of my room.
Ideally, in a perfect world, we'd be able to practice freely and live side by side without conflict with other religions. But until that time, the situation must dictate whether or not a pagan can be out of the broomcloset.
| Personally, I'm In "the Closet". It's More Of A Protectoin Thing For... ||Aug 28th. at 12:08:59 am EDT|
|Kalanna (B.O.P, New Zealand) ||Age: 15 |
Personally, I'm in "the closet". It's more of a protectoin thing for me. I am not sure of my family's reactoin, and being a teenager, my friends reactions are important. My normal view on things is to do what makes you happy, but this time my friends approval is very important, if only because my life at college needss to be somewhere in the normal zone. Fitting in is quite important at my age. I want to be opout of the closet, it's just not practical at the moment.
I think that it's great to be out there showing your beliefs, but if you are constantly pushing "the pagan way" every minute of your day, then it's just a bit too much. You should be out there enjoying life too!
| I Am A Wiccan Who Has Been "out" For 20yrs But For... ||Aug 28th. at 12:17:51 am EDT|
|Johna Delano a.k.a Red Dove (Springvale, Maine US) ||Age: 34 - Email |
I am a Wiccan who has been "out" for 20yrs but for that same 20yrs have been told by my employers that to wear my pentacle in plain site would cost me my job.Now, they can't fire me because of my religion and when I stated that crosses should be banned also I was told that crosses weren't "offensive" to the general public.Needless to say I wore my pentacle, nothing was said, I was a Certified Nurse's Aide in a mid-sized hospital in Southern Maine and then one day a patient asked if I was Jewish.I replied "no" so what are you? came next, I said that it was against hospital policy to discuss these matters with patients and she persisted, I replied "Wiccan" and left the room I also asked a co-worker to switch rooms with me so I wouldn't continue the conversation, request denied.The woman who didn't know what Wicca was asked her daughter and the daughter reported me to the Unit Leader, they waited three months (my probationary period) and fired me for being "inappropriate and unprofessional with my comments"
I am still in the health-care field but I'm a Home Health Care Provider, I still wear my pentacle in plain site but I quickly change the subject when asked now.I plan to study and become a Midwife and some day an R.N. My only hope is that someday people will see the person and not just the pentacle.
| I Believe That If Everyone Came Out Of The Closet Pagans Would... ||Aug 28th. at 12:18:36 am EDT|
|Trent howell (Grand Rapids, Michigan US) ||Age: 26 - Email |
I believe that if everyone came out of the closet pagans would be able to express their belief's, and idea's without worry of persecution.The day's of the burning times are over people are more educated now, and I believe that if we stood together it wouldn't be an issue.
| As A Teenager Living With My Parents I, Under The Consitiution Must... ||Aug 28th. at 12:38:03 am EDT|
|Shanra Lark (Wrightwood, California US) ||Age: 16 - Email |
As a teenager living with my parents I, under the consitiution must obey my parents, even in matters relating to religion. Luckly I have been blessed with parents who are more than open minded, and although they may not be pagan themselves, they are more than willing to encourage my interest in religion. My father holds a govenment elected job (he's a superior judge in california) and so therefore attempts at all times to project a good image of himself to potential voters. I goes without saying that if the press takes a photo of me and my dad and I am wearing a quite nice bright silver pentagram that many people are going to misinterpert that, my dad could loose votes, and finnaly his job. Therefore as a responsibility to my family I choose to stay in my rather comforable broom closet.
In addition to my family, I feel that too many times teens like to use the word "witch" "coven" and "wicca" as a shock word, used only to distance themselves from people. This is also because of a largly negative assosiation people hold to the words, but leaving that asside for now...It all matters how and when you say things like that.
Please give me your two (virtual) cents on what I've written, I'd love to hear from you!
| Since I Am Most Of The Way Out Of The Closet, I... ||Aug 28th. at 12:42:46 am EDT|
|catlady (saskatoon, Saskatchewan CA) ||Age: 50 |
Since I am most of the way out of the closet, I can understand both sides of the problem. I have told some, but not all of my friends and none of my family. Why? More out of respect for them and their beliefs than concern about how it will affect me. On the other hand, I have a very dear friend who practices wicca, but lives in a small, highly intollerant, town, where if it were known she is a practicing witch would make her life a living hell. So the issue isn't all black or white. I guess each of us has to decide what is best in our given situation. If that sounds like fence-sitting, well call me a pumpkin and leave it at that.
| I Believe That This Is A Very Individual Thing. Just As A... ||Aug 28th. at 1:02:46 am EDT|
|kelly (las vegas, Nevada US) ||Age: 51 |
I believe that this is a very individual thing. Just as a persons religion is personal and in their heart, the decision to be vocal about ones religion is that persons decision to make. Some people are good at vocalizing about their beliefs, however the majority of those seem to be Christians such as their many evangelists. I personally carry my religion very secure in my heart.
| I Am Out Of The Broom Closet, And Have Been For As... ||Aug 28th. at 1:23:23 am EDT|
|Nelli (Carmel Valley, California US) ||Age: 23 |
I am out of the broom closet, and have been for as long as I have been practicing - about 10 years now. I am not, however, interested in proclaiming my beliefs to all and sundry whether or not they care. "Coming out" to my parents was never an issue; neither were terribly religious as I was growing up, and both allowed me to do my own exploration about religion. At this point, my father is in denial (he has become much more devout - and christian - as he has aged) and insists on refering to me as agnostic... which doen't bother me, as it is technically true. I don't claim to have any special corner on The Truth, and am mostly finding my way blindly down a very windy (as in curvy, not breezy) path in the general direction of Truth. My mother is Buddhist, and is very interested in my beliefs. As for the world at large: I wear a pentacle ring and necklace - the necklace is one of those nifty ones that has a pentacle in the middle, and 5 other major religious symbols between each point. Most people don't ask. Many people compliment me on it; I'm actually rather pleased and surprised about how many people recognize it and react with courtesy instead of fear (but then, I live in California - a notoriously cutting edge and liberal place, for the most part). Many others assume it is a Star of David, and ask if I am jewish. Others ask what it means, and a few have asked me if I am satanic (at which point I plaster on a smile, clench my jaw, and remain very pleasent and gentle). To these last few, I give a brief explanation of my beliefs, nature based religion, blah blah, celebrate the seasons, blah blah, honor and respect mother earth and all beings, etc. etc. You all know the drill, I'm sure. The reactions I get range from overt interest, through mild confusion, to attempts at conversion - pretty standard stuff.
I have always been too stubborn to hide or lie about my beliefs, even when in fourth grade I decided that God doesn't exist, and my classmates made all those wonderful comments about how long I was going to burn in hell - whatever. I never said anything unless they asked, and I still hold to that policy. Religion is a personal, private affair, and beyond educating people who ask about what my beliefs are, I just keep it to myself.
Too far out any wiccan equivalent of Pat Robertson. Too far out is the little girl running around school claiming she's put spells on everyone, or the person who can't talk about anything but their wonderful, mystical, unique faith. People who feel the need to get on a pulpit uninvited, or to constantly declare their beliefs to the world, are insecure about themselves and their faith, and are using religion as a tool for attention or ego-boosting.
I wish that this were the kind of world in which no one ever felt like they had reason to hide their spirituality, but the bald truth is that there are people dying all over the world for their religion, hidden or not, and many more people who suffer all kinds of persecution because of their faith. I would encourage everyone to come out of whatever religious closet they are in, just so that we can all see how many like-minded individuals there are out there, as well as how many diverse spiritualities there are. However, I could never condemn anyone who wishes to keep their lives and the lives of their loved ones safe be remaining "in". Religion and spirituality are, as I have said before, very personal and private things. One needn't declare one's faith openly to be devout, and the extent to which anyone shares his/her religion with others is entirely up to her/him.
| What An Extremely Interesting Question, The Broom Closet. I Am Out To... ||Aug 28th. at 1:34:11 am EDT|
|Gretchen Williams (Santa Rosa, California US) ||Age: 50 - Email |
What an extremely interesting question, the broom closet. I am out to all my friends. I guess there are one or two people back east who don't know yet, I don't want to create a misunderstanding across 3000 miles. When I see those people in person I will tell them.
We like to think that California is so tolerant, but I have experienced being snubbed and scapegoated here, in addition to firming up some fabulous friendships, when I come out. It's always a risk. You just never can be sure how the other person will respond. Some people have really surprised me. One man I met at a party was enjoying a long conversation with me, until he asked what my pentacle meant. I tried to beat around the bush by telling him it was a pagan symbol, but he pinned me down. So I told him I was a witch, and he didn't say another word to me the rest of the night. But two long-time friends who didn't know I was practicing are now members of my coven. How could that have happened if I never told them? In general, I am in favor of telling people, unless there is a safety issue.
My family are all atheists, and not terribly tolerant, so I might share with them and I might not. For the time being I have not. Jesus had something on the ball when he told his students not to cast their pearls before swine, or else they will just trample on your precious gems and then rip you apart. My family are not exactly swine, okay, but they (yes, it is unanimous) firmly hold the opinion that any and all spiritual seeking is a waste of time. And I was not born to straighten them out. I know why I was born into my family, and that is not my purpose there.
I am firmly in the closet at work. I work for a huge company that has all the "correct" policies regarding discrimination, but there is a lot of gossip and I just don't feel safe there. I go into customer's homes, and there is always enough to handle without introducing yet another topic of conversation by wearing my pentacle. I love my customers. There will be some that I can share with, I'm sure. I feel safer with my customers than with my co-workers, come to think of it.
In my neighborhood I am well-known as a witch. I keep an altar room that is more-or-less visible to the street, a witchy meditation garden in the back yard, and I go all-out for the kids on Halloween. Plus my little coven often meets here, and what we lack in numbers we make up for in rhythmic intensity. Anyone who goes by my door at any time of the year should be able to feel it and know, "A Powerful Witch lives here. Come in and be healed."
| I Wont Presume To Force My Thoughts On Other People. Heck, Thats... ||Aug 28th. at 1:35:45 am EDT|
|Vivica Windswept (Keaau, Hawaii US) ||Age: 16 - Email |
I wont presume to force my thoughts on other people. Heck, thats a main part of what i believe and preach about. Circumstances are different for everyone. Myself personally, in or out of the broom closet? My parents and my friends know. My extended family does not. I do not believe they could handle it or respect my choice in it. Someday they will definately know, when Im older and they think of me as an adult not as some teenager going through a phase. Telling my family was rough but it was slightly buffered because my father was Hindu and automatically supported me. I did have some sly coments from my mom though. I had some wiccan friends already, so that was ok. Sorta. Around the time i made the dicision on wicca, i went to a christian camp. Me and another close friend had agreed to go with our christian friend. That was hard. Torture. That strengthned the bond between my friend Athena and I but distanced ourselfs more from or christian friend. I also discovered Athena was wiccan. We cried alot that summer. Coming out of that closet is hard. I dont care what anybody says. Some say they have had a great time coming out but I havent met any. I also think its a learning experience every witch should go through. You come out stronger and with more of a passion for what you believe in. But, then again, circumstances are different for everyone. So despite if your in our out of that cramped closet, your decision is vailid and Blessed Be.
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