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Posted: Sep. 8, 2002
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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 Am Out Of The "broomcloset", But I Am Also Not An... ||Sep 2nd. at 10:15:50 am EDT|
|Terre Wolf (Ynys Witrin, New York US) ||Age: 16 - Email |
I am out of the "broomcloset", but I am also not an "in your face" pagan. I think that pagans should not hide in the "broomcloset" for fear of having people shun them. I also feel that the "in your face" pagans are a little extreme in their ways to make themselves accepted in Society no matter their beliefs. Pagans should get out of the "broomcloset" but not to the point of giving others reason to say paganism is bad. We pagans should be proud of our beliefs and be open with others about them. We should NOT however, flaunt our beliefs and make people sick of us before We are ready to fully gain our religous rights in Society.
| I Have Chosen To Be In The Open About My Beliefs Since... ||Sep 2nd. at 11:57:32 am EDT|
|Tracie Montgomery (Inkom, Idaho US) ||Age: 39 - Email |
I have chosen to be in the open about my beliefs since first deciding to follow the witchcraft path. I don't shove my belief system down anyones throat. I wear a small 14kt pentacle in open view everyday to work as a bank teller. I have had very few comments or questions, but when asked I answer the questions to the best of my ability being in a busy place of business. My co-workers don't hassle me, they respect my views, as I respect thiers. I dress like anyone else working at a bank would. I do see people that walk around town, wearing one of every type pentacle they can fit on their person, dressed in black. I even have one customer that is a very petite blond sporting gawdy pentacles, and a big black and pink pentacle tattoo on her forearm. I don't choose to make a spectacle of myself. I feel like if I don't want to be treated like a freak, I shouldn't present myself as such. People who want to be taken seriously, behave like everyday people, not some fashion enigma. I myself believe that the people who are really practicing the craft seriously, want to be taken seriously, and therefore don't try to scare or alarm the general public.
On my old beat up VW however I do have a small pentacle on the back window, and a wiccan fish. I see people all over with thier chistian fish, and darwin fish, so I don't feel out of place at all. I did have a JW corner me in the mcdonalds drive thru recently and hand me a watchtower. She felt that since I was openly advertising she had the right to try to save me. Oh well.
| Ok, This Is A Hard One For Me. My Husband Is Celtic... ||Sep 2nd. at 12:20:00 pm EDT|
|Gray Boom (Ft. Bragg, North Carolina US) ||Age: 30 - Email |
OK, this is a hard one for me. My husband is Celtic, and is very open about his beliefs. He is in the military and has tried to explain to people about our beliefs, although his has gotten many suprised responses, since they 'never would have thought he would be a witch'.(We are finding that not only are old sterotypes involved, but also new ones, such as 'Pagans are lazy slackers who sit around and do nothing and just use their celebration days to try to get out of working'~ geez!)
I am Eclectic. I didn't come right out and say it, but I hinted to my mother that I am a witch, and she got the hint. "I am very dissapointed in your decision" was her response, which stung at first, but I got used to it, even though I wish it were different. Anyway, most of our nieghbors know we are witches (we had a pentacle in our front yard, but it got overgrown-we were using it for a lattice). We have a foreign exchange student, which was interesting; the co-ordinator wanted to convert us, but just made us promise not to try to convert the student to witchcraft. I work in a church (Baptist); I don't think they know, I haven't said anything, but I wear my pentacle and wedding ring (it's an Irish cladagh [sorry-can't spell Gaelic]).
So with all that said, I think my point was simply this; I think it depends on the situation. I lost some family closeness because of it, I will probably lose my job because of it. I will fight for my rights as a Witch, and I am trying to organize something in our area because there are more pagans in our community than our small group can handle. All I can do is never give up the hope that someday everyone will learn acceptance of each other, both inside the pagan community and amongst those with other beliefs.
| I've Been Openly Pagan For About 5 Years Now,(closet Pagan For... ||Sep 2nd. at 1:35:37 pm EDT|
|Terri Vega (New Carlisle, Indiana US) ||Age: 36 - Email |
I've been openly Pagan for about 5 years now, (Closet Pagan for almost all the years prior in my life) although I don't broadcast it to the world on the street corner. When I'm asked about my beliefs I openly share them and do my best to disolve any of the crazy stereotype beliefs that so often accompany people who are uninformed about Paganism. I have found personally, that working with the similarites of religous beliefs, more often than not, result in a better communication cycle than if say, I were to explain the differences of belief. When one focuses on difference it seems to open the floor for arguement. When the similarites are found however, the non-pagan (in my experience)is more receptive and tends to view me as an equal. The human experience tends to pyscologically classify people into two groups-Us and Them. When a person sees you as an "Us", I have found they are more willing to listen to a different opinon when the proper time presents itself. I think patience and silience can be very powerful tools. There are those of course, who have fallen beyond any reasonable ability to converse on an open and intelligent level. In these extreme cases, I would choose not to continue any conversation and except the fact that the person or people are not spiritually ready yet. If violence becomes an issue...well, unfortunatly I would choose to fight back. I have no intention of allowing the blatent discrimination and dangers of the past to re-evolve. I strongly believe that unless we continue to come together as a community, our rights will be taken away. Therefore, I think the time is right for all Pagans, Wiccans, etc.. to make their beliefs known.
| I Live In South Georgia, And It Is Really Hard To Come... ||Sep 2nd. at 2:36:47 pm EDT|
|Narisah (Americus, Georgia US) ||Age: 21 - Email |
I live in south Georgia, and it is really hard to come out when you live in the Southern Bible Belt, especially in a small town with very few if any other Pagans around. The decision to come out of the broom closet is a personal one...it should be up to the individual to decide if s/he wants to come out and to whom...friends, family, coworkers. It really depends a lot on where you live too. I'm out with my family and friends, but not with my coworkers, employer, or landlady. Living where I am, it is very difficult to be very out about my choice of spirituality. Others may not have a problem.....it should be up to the Pagan her or himself, and such a decision should not be forced on a person by other people or groups. Freedom of religion is just that....the freedom to practice your chosen spirituality, or lack of it, without persecution or having to tell anyone else about your beliefs.
| I Am Definately "out" Of The Closet...but Not Obnoxiously So. I... ||Sep 2nd. at 4:47:16 pm EDT|
|Tammy Wanzer (San Jose, California US) ||Age: 28 - Email |
I am definately "out" of the closet...but not obnoxiously so. I feel that religious freedom is just that; I have the freedom to believe what I want when I want to. But I don't push it in anyone's face. Religion, spirituality, and the like are personal, private things. If someone came up to me and asked "Are you a Witch?" I'd say yes. Honesty is a big part of my personal belief system. And if someone is actually brave enough to ask me a question like that, I feel they deserve a honest answer. But I don't wave my beliefs in anyone's face. It's not something 'cool' to show off. But I am not embaressed of it either. I do feel that life in general would be easier if everyone was honest and proud of their Pagan practices. If we all stood up, it would be an impressive site. But I can not tell another what to do. I just feel it's a shame for so many to live in fear. "Perfect Love and Perfect Trust" as the old camp cheer goes. And I KNOW there are crazies out there who will do mean things to people who call themelves Witches, but in general I think 'in the closet' Pagans are more scared then they should be. We have so many ways of protecting ourselves; in every sense of the word; that we don't need to be afraid. If you are living a happy, loving, and spiritually pure life then you have nothing to be ashamed of, and nothing to fear. Pagan and Proud!
| Well What Can I Say That Kinda Ting Is A Personal Choice... ||Sep 2nd. at 5:01:07 pm EDT|
|Samantha Erickson (Ruckerville) ||Age: 17 - Email |
well what can I say that kinda ting is a personal choice. When I came out of the broom closet I at first had a hard time yespecally from the uneducated but as the shock wore off and I was still pagan people began to accept me I think that all pagans should try to come out of the broom closet but all the advice I can give is this. It will be hard and you will have to fight because if you lest someone walk over your religon like it were a dirty rug then you do a disservace to them yourself and the gods if you come out of the closet be defensive make sure your religon is a line that cannot be crossed.
| Ok I Have Never Seen This Terribly Debated, But Then This Site... ||Sep 2nd. at 5:53:48 pm EDT|
|Victor J Kinzer (Bloomington, Indiana US) ||Age: 19 - Email |
Ok I have never seen this terribly debated, but then this site is one of the only one's I visit due to time constraints. Personally I feel that a person should be open with who they feel comfortable being open with. I am "out of the broomclose" but I still stand by it. What I mean by this is that while I do not deny my religious beliefs and I do call myself pagan if asked, there is nothing about me that advertises it. I don't wear a pentacle or any other obvious jewelry. I have a small ankh earing that I wear pretty much all the time, but that is such a popularized symbol that it really doesn't matter. The only other hint is the constant black clothing due to the slight fashion sense hold over from my fringe goth involvement 2 or so years ago(that was over and done with rather quickly but I did keep a small hint of the fashion sense). In any event if a person doesn't want to deal with all the insane fundamentalists then they shouldn't have to, and those people who are comfortable screaming to the heavens and anyone that will listen that the sky is falling and the fix is in should. Some people just don't have the drive, or determination to deal with what can heppen to them in those circumstances.
| After Forty Years Of Searching For My Own Spirituality I Am Definantly... ||Sep 2nd. at 6:09:21 pm EDT|
|Kathie Ingram (Winter Park, Florida US) ||Age: 42 |
After forty years of searching for my own spirituality I am definantly out of the broom closet! I am at peace with my new found Wiccan faith & am proud to be who I am. However, I'm not stupid. I don't boast. If the matter comes up I don't deny my beliefs, but I don't go around looking for controvery. I proudly wear my sliver of a moon necklace & Celtic knot ring & I live in peace. I read recently that Wicca & other earth bound faiths are the fastest growing spiritual movement in the United States & the U.K. today. With that I hope that in time we'll all be able to walk in the light of the Goddess & have no fear. Bright Blessings!
| I Am Out For Most Of My Family And Friends, But There... ||Sep 2nd. at 7:20:21 pm EDT|
|Sunwillow (Lynchburg, Virginia US) ||Age: 32 - Email |
I am out for most of my family and friends, but there are certain family members who wouldn't listen as I tried to explain, so I keep it from them, so I have one foot in and one foot out.
| I Have Just Begun To Learn The Wiccan Beliefs, And Have Been... ||Sep 2nd. at 7:23:14 pm EDT|
|infinigirl (Greenbrier, Tennessee US) ||Age: 20 - Email |
I have just begun to learn the wiccan beliefs, and have been observing reactions to wicca from people around me. I personally would want to be able to say that I am wiccan without getting derrogatory comments thrown into my face. The reality however isn't that way, just from everyday comments without me saying a word, i have heard many misundertandings in the words of others. People seem so set in believing that wicca, and pagans alike, are into satanism, and don't even care to hear the truth when told it. So, from this, I can see how many people choose not to tell many people about their religion in fear of this negativity ruining their friendships, and even family lives. It is sad, yes, that someone has to be afraid to share something they care so deeply about, but it is also very lonely when noone understands. So, in a perfect world, I would say Be proud to be what you are, however, the abuse sometimes makes that impossible.
Blessed be to everyone who has chosen this path.
| I Am An "out" Wiccan. Not In-your-face Out, But I Wear My... ||Sep 2nd. at 11:20:00 pm EDT|
|K.V. (Glendale, Arizona US) ||Age: 43 - Email |
I am an "out" Wiccan. Not in-your-face out, but I wear my Pentacle openly and have no qualms about setting people straight about my Path. I have had folks ask me if I am a Satanist, and I have answered their questions without getting upset or rude; some are quite accepting of my answers, while others retain their opinions. I live in the Southwest, and there is no shortage of narrow minds. My approach to this has been the same as how I deal with folks who have difficulty with my biracial marriage - I make it a point to avoid antagonizing people, but I also make it plain that foolishness will not be allowed to go unchallenged. I don't have any big problems with anyone, and I must admit that this may partly be due to my physical size. (I'm 5'11" and about 230 lbs.) I can only say that being "out" or "in" is a personal choice, and we all know that in some areas of the country coming out can lead to problems - like in Pell, Alabama for instance. In my case I wouldn't have it any other way, for being open about who I am is extremely important. I plan to be very involved with the school my children attend (PTA, Board meetings, and so on) so that I can stay on top of issues that might affect them and other non-christian kids in my neighborhood.
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