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Posted: Sep. 8, 2002
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Question of the Week: 109 - 5/7/2003
The Broom Closet Revisited: What’s Your Current Occupancy Rate?
Are you living more or less in the broom closet since last year? Does the current political climate make you more or less open about your beliefs with strangers or casual acquaintances than you used to be?
Are you worried or have you ever seriously considered that a modern day ‘witch hunt’ might target Pagans in the next few months/years?
Have you taken extra precautions to protect your private information or Pagan identity on the internet? At work? In your neighborhood?
Are you more or less inclined to speak up and/or identify yourself as a Pagan when discussing or writing about political, religious or social issues these days?
| Reponses: There are 129 responses posted to this question.
|| Reverse Sort
| Well... ||May 13th. at 8:54:35 am EDT|
|Rawiya Storyteller (Canada) ||Age: 21 - Email |
To most of my friends, they know my religious choice. I'm open with most people. However, there are certain situations in which I do not discuss it. With teachers, employers, etc. -- basically anyone who can use the information to cause me harm or damage or whom the fact will alter their perception of me -- I do not tell.
Family is different though. I come from a strong Catholic background, and although I don't believe in the Church, I respect the views of my mother and her parents, who think the sun rises and sets on the steeple of St. So-And-So's Catholic Church.
However, the other night I was telling my mother about a dream I had -- a friend of mine had a baby yesterday (Monday morning) . The Saturday night before, I had a dream where a woman came to me (I think that it was my vision of the Goddess, the Celtic goddess Brid) and I asked, "Is it a boy or a girl?" and I heard a voice say "It's a boy." I told my mother (I stretched the truth a little) that I HAD in fact seen the woman who spoke with me -- that it was the Goddess Brid and my mother found it very interesting.
Does that mean she'd accept my Wiccan faith? Probably not. But it's a nice thought anyway.
| Heathen ||May 13th. at 10:53:34 am EDT|
|Hearthstone (Michigan) ||Age: 41 - Email |
Immediate family and friends know; extended family, acquaintances and strangers generally don't. I do wear my hammer (in or out, however it falls) but I don't think the hammer is as much of a magnet for fundamentalists as the pentacle is (i.e. they don't know what it is :) ) . It isn't a topic of conversation that comes up often; however, it's also not a topic of conversation I'm likely to bring up myself.
| What I Believe, Is What I Know, And So I Also Live It Out. ||May 13th. at 11:43:40 am EDT|
|Rede Seeker (Cincinnati, Ohio, USA) ||Age: 48 - Email |
Those words, courtesy of Guido von List, the great Armanen Runemanster sums up my position.
If the subject comes up, I am open about my beliefs. I wear the pentacle, hammer, or valknot when I feel called to do so. I lecture on runic topics at Psychic Festivals and Pagan Pride days; I ask for 'newWitch' magazine at the information counter of my local bookstore. I'm an 'up front' kind of person anyway so the people who know me, know this about me. I'm also somewhat lucky. When I do tell folks what I am (Asatru) , I receive respectful questions and general interest. Being female in a male-dominated field has hampered my career more than being a heathen.
I'm interested in the age demographics of this survey. My theory is that as one approaches Elderhood in their Way of Choice, they also 'come out' - either consciously or by example and association. You cannot choose a way of life, follow it 'religiously' and not have it reflected in your daily life - an Elder 'also live (s) it out'.
| Being Out Is Important So People Can See We're Not Freaks ||May 13th. at 3:21:04 pm EDT|
|Robin (New Mexico) ||Age: 40 - Email |
I am very open about my beliefs and involvement in the local pagan community. I fortunately work in a setting where respecting diversity is strongly valued. I have not had any overtly negative responses in the years that I have been "out" (about 4 years now) . I have had one fundie tell me she'd pray for me - oh well, she was annoying but I can always use more prayers to any deity on my behalf. I have had more positive responses than I can count, from the curiousity many others have described to other pagans in this setting who are closeted but very relieved to make contact with another pagan. I work with many young adults and so that openness to support them is very important in my mind.
Only when people get through their head that witches are not all those awful things they've been taught will we be close to being safe. We aren't safe now, but then a lot of other groups aren't either. Familiarity makes it a lot harder to demonize something. People need to know that we are contributing members of society trying to grow and do the right thing, just like they do in their ways. More are okay with that than are not, around here, and in part I think it's because we have a very large and open pagan community.
| Out, Out And About ||May 13th. at 3:29:22 pm EDT|
|KatRivers (Central Kentucky) ||Age: 38 - Email |
I believed in the Goddess before I knew anything about her and I've considered myself a pagan since I was 8 years old. I have always found it difficult to ignore her presence in my life and in my spiritual/physical/mental being. My family has always known I was "different" and, really, they've always been fairly accepting of my spiritual beliefs. (However, I should say that I was raised in southeastern Ohio (Adams/Brown/Highland Counties) and folks there tend to fall into two religious camps: (a) fundamentalism or (b) it's all a bunch of B.S. anyway, so one set of beliefs is as good as another. Also, even though my maternal grandmother called herself a Methodist, she was also an herbalist, practiced animal husbandry, and claimed to have cast a curse over her ex-husband.)
Anyway, I have self-identified as pagan since I was very young and I have called myself a witch at least since I was 12 or 13 -- maybe even younger. This did cause me problems in high school. My classmates always thought I was a bit odd and my boyfriend chalked up any emotions he felt for me to being under a spell! However, my close friends accepted me (one of whom was also Wiccan) and I had a high school science teacher who practiced Wicca. One of my aunts, a staunch Jehovah's Witness, was convinced that I was doomed to go to hell and constantly pushed anti-Satanism/anti-witchcraft literature on me. Because I lived in a Christian culture, this literature did sometimes lead me to fear for my soul, etc.
In college, in the mid-80s, I embraced my witch self, disembraced it, embraced it, etc. In 1995, I squelched my religious beliefs because they upset the man with whom I was living. I was miserable. Recently, (in 2000) , I decided that I was going to be who I am and not worry about it. Now, I am a faculty member at a college and I proudly display a grapevine pentagram on the wall of my office. Although I don't proselytize, when religion is discussed in class and my students ask me what spiritual path I follow, I don't hesitate to tell them. This has offended exactly two people in the past six years (both of whom were uptight Christian fundamentalists) . I freely admit to my paganism in front of my co-workers. Although I feel certain that I am the object of a certain amount of gossip around campus, no one has said anything to my face and I can't see that my openness has negatively affected my job evaluations.
I don't think that witch hunts are going to return to America, despite the fact that the Moron in Chief has publicly stated that "Wicca ain't a religion." Hey, I think he ain't really presidential material, but that doesn't change the fact that he's the prez!
Someone responded to this message by saying that the more "elder" she becomes, the less she cares about whether people are upset by her spiritual beliefs. To that I would say, "Blessed be, Sister." Finally, I was reading an article the other day in which a woman wrote (I'm paraphrasing here, but I think I'm writing close to what she wrote) :
When we're eighteen, we care what everybody thinks of us.
When we're forty, we don't really give a darn what anyone else thinks of our actions.
When we're sixty, we realize that no one was ever really watching us to begin with.
I suppose this is a long-winded way of saying: I'll never be in the closet again, even if I have to rearrange my life around my spiritual beliefs. As I tell my young nieces and nephews: It's your life, so let your freak monkey swing. - Kat
| Out Of The "Closet" And Proud ||May 13th. at 4:30:55 pm EDT|
|Lady Venus (Oregon) ||Age: 30 - Email |
I live in a growing community in Eastern Oregon that unfortunately doesn't have an open pagan community. But in these last few months, I have found that there are alot more of us in this area. I have become more open with what I am, as well as more open about telling my friends and family.
I don't fear a modern day "witch hunt", I don't fear that my beliefs are going to get me fired from a job, or that my children are going to be taken away because I am not a "good Christian mother". I simply remind the people around me that it isn't what you are or what you believe, it's WHO you are. This simple phrase defuses just about any argument.
As far as identifying myself as a Wiccan, I wear my pentacle with pride. If asked what my beliefs are, I answer honestly that I am a Wiccan. I have answered my door to many people wanting to preach to me about their beliefs, but when told of mine, they run for their car as fast as they can. While this does tend to bring a few chuckles out of me, it also saddens me that these people can't let themselves listen to anyone who isn't of their religion.
| I Am . . . ||May 13th. at 5:45:05 pm EDT|
|Wyldcard (Toronto) ||Age: 28 - Email |
I am half-way out the broom closet.
My roomate and my friends all know my religion and I've found acceptance, even though only portion of my friends are pagan. My home is littered with books, herbs, rocks, and oils.
At work, I take Beltaine, Samhain, Winter Solstice, and Summer Solstice off as vacation days -- no hassles. I work in technical support, so this is a big deal. In return, I am willing and I have worked Christmas, Easter, and New Years. No other discussion about religion has come up during business hours.
With family, I have not discussed my religion. I'm 28, unmarried and without children. If my family found out I was Pagan as well, I'm not sure they could handle it.
| Slowly Creeping Out....... ||May 13th. at 5:56:14 pm EDT|
|Summer (Ponca City, Oklahoma) ||Age: 22 - Email |
I know that I am more out than I was last year. I am begining to be more open at work and around friends. I'm actually looking at this site at work during my slow time, where any one walking by my desk can see. I'm still a little nervous arround my older family members and people that I don't know. It will come with time though, soon I know that I can be me all the time.
| Out And About ||May 13th. at 7:11:55 pm EDT|
|Hugh Scharland (Chicago) ||Age: 29 - Email |
I made a personal decision to come out of the broom closet last autumn (2002) and the reactions have been surprising. Many of my friends saw it coming anyway. My family was shocked but took it well, all things considered. Although now they want less to do with me. Only a couple of people in my life outside of relations put distance between us.
At work, a Christian attempted to argue his case against Paganism, but his info was very biased...and the discussion broke down into his hystrionics. Another Christian seems to insist on praying to his God when sitting next to me, rather than doing his work. There was a bible left at my work station once. Now all of this doesn't bother me enough yet, but I can see it getting on my nerves very soon. I don't leave copies of my spells or my personal prayers around on other people's desks. I don't try to argue with the Christians about their beliefs' validity. And that work situation will be over in two weeks due to layoffs. I will endeavor to find a more Pagan friendly environment to work in.
As an act of coming out and staying out, I now wear my pentacle over my shirt. Out and proud. Why should I hide it?
This has led to some tense situations but it has also led me into a wonderful friendship with another Witch who refuses to hide her pentacle also. That's how we met. Sometimes I get worried but I have committed my self to this small act of being open and out. I want other Witches to know they are not alone. And I want everyone else to become more comfortable with who I am.
Last night, I was treatly very coldly in a normally warm hearted bar when I went for a drink. (I like beer sometimes.) I would like to say that it was because times had changed and the bar was no longer warm. But many people stared at my pentacle as if it made me dangerous. So I can't say it was just due to the times changing. I still want to see the good in the folks who may judge me without knowing me. But I don't have to go where they go.
In summary, coming out of the broom closet has made me feel more at ease and happy with myself. I'd encourage it for others to do, but I understand the pressures for hiding. May We realize We can Weave together a World where We can all Live with one another in Perfect Love and Trust. So mote it be.
Bless you all.
| No Thanks - I Prefer A Table Outside The 'broom Closet' ||May 13th. at 11:42:35 pm EDT|
|Jahna Alvarado (San Diego California) ||Age: 38 - Email |
A great question! I imagine that there are many people of a variety of faiths that are less comfortable about overtly identifying their faith given the events of the last several years. Prejudice and ingnorance being VERY effective tools against those perceived to be outside the 'norm'.
Here's my personal experience (really only of value for me - but here goes) . I am fortunate. I live in a fairly progressive and tolerant area. I am no more or less in the broom closet. Perhaps less so as I study more and become more convinced/secure? in my faith. What's kind of interesting is that I tend to be more 'in someone's face' if I feel there is a lack of tolerance. Go figure.
Yes, I am concerned that intolerance is on the rise and not only for Pagans. I think that concern drives me to be more open on my own beliefs. I hope that is so.
My silver sixpence....
| Eh...Well... ||May 14th. at 12:00:58 am EDT|
|Vaia Nyera (Rochester Minnesota ^_^) ||Age: 18 - Email |
I've been "comming out" quite a bit in the past year or so. Mostly everyone in my school knows I'm Bi and Wiccan, mother and father know I'm wiccan, mother knows I'm Bi as does my sister, but it's not too accepted. My father used to tell me that I was going to hell a lot, and my mother (when told that I was Bi) responded "Heh, thats what she THINKS" (She's a hedge witch, too) .
I've been critisized at school and such, but I really don't care. I have a sharp tongue so I can back myself up, but it wasn't always like that. Back when I first came out, a friend of mine (Celeste from MN) came out with me, and I appreciated it greatly. We've lost touch since then, but I still appreciate what we did together.
I still get critisized at times, but my boyfriend is very supportive and sweet about it, he's my rock ^_^.
Until I get out of this Bible belt, Lindner Voting, Intollerant place, I'll deal with it. But like they say, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.
| TEOTWAWKI ||May 14th. at 12:22:01 am EDT|
|sage-mama (Kansas) ||Age: 39 - Email |
Are you worried or have you ever seriously considered that a modern day ‘witch hunt’ might target Pagans in the next few months/years?
Please forgive my big sigh...For years, as a Christian fundamentalist; I chased one conspiracy theory after the next. Refurbished Japanese POW camps? Black helicoptors? Mark of the Beast? sorry...I'm not turning a blind eye to the reality of Big-Brother like tactics for gathering and using information to control, and an overly invasive government with a very serious messiah complex. But I refuse to live in fear anymore. On one hand, the dominant state religious systems have always used various forms of harrassment and persecution in attempts to silence dissidents. the concept of owning your own spirituality, as common to those of pagan faiths, could be seen as a real threat to religions that seek to control. On the other hand...with the right persons on the forefront, paganism could take her place of dignity within world religions as the Earth based message is so sorely needed these days, now more than ever as our Mother is sick, toxic, and so in need of her children to rise up and speak out for her!
P.S. Empty P.O.W. camps a bit N of here in Concordia, Kansas. If anyone is interested i can find out if there is any truth to this rumor !?!
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