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Question of the Week: 113

Pagan Problem Children: What Can We Do About Them?

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 Author:    Posted: Sep. 8, 2002   This Page Viewed: 9,263,856  

Vox Q Stats

Times Viewed: 32,767

Reponses: 181

Lurker/Post Ratio: 181 to 1

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. Reverse Sort 


Ok I Have Never Seen This Terribly Debated, But Then This Site... Sep 2nd. at 5:53:48 pm UTC

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 UTC

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 UTC

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 UTC

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 UTC

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.


I Am Out Of The Broomcloset With Everyone Except My Parents And... Sep 3rd. at 12:01:25 am UTC

Holly Ross (a.k.a., Morgana) (Wichita, Kansas US) Age: 20 - Email


I am out of the broomcloset with everyone except my parents and sister. The reason that I am still (at the age of 20) hiding it from them is that they are strong Christians. Telling them the truth would do nothing positive except hurt them and cause them worry. I see no reason why they should have to worry about my soul, so they do not know. I understand that some are not fortunate enough to be able to be out of the broomcloset as I am. I'm in the Air Force, which has a very strict policy about discrimination and harrassment, and I have numerous avenues to pursue if I am ever victimized for my religious beliefs. However, most people in America are not so lucky, and some people still lose their jobs for religion. All in all, it's a decision that needs to be made on a case-by-case basis. What do you believe is right for you? That said, if you are going to be "out of the broomcloset", please, please, PLEASE try your hardest to be "normal"--at least with your non-pagan acquaintances. Although I personally see nothing wrong with dressing in all black and wearing pentacles out in the open, many people equate that type of behavior with Satanism and "evil". If you're going to claim Witchcraft openly, please be very cautious as to how you present yourself.


The Decision Is Really Your Own, But If Other Religions Can Be... Sep 3rd. at 12:20:29 am UTC

Emanya (Bedford, New Hampshire US) Age: 15


The decision is really your own, but if other religions can be open, why not us? Why should we keep secrets and not be ourselves?


Merry Meet Everyone. My Views On This Are That I Think That... Sep 3rd. at 2:33:09 am UTC

Ashling (Moontownship, Pennsylvania US) Age: 16 - Email


Merry Meet everyone. My views on this are that I think that minors should be "in". I myself am a minor. I'm only 16. I told a few people at my school and someone told almost everyone. And as a result people were talking behind my back and making fun of me. People that I trusted. Well people that I thought I could trust. If you're over 18 then more power to you because then you're free to worship anything you please and can't get into troble or kicked out of your school. I mean at college you can't really get into trouble that I know of. You're an adult. When you're a minor you're parents can send you to a bible school, or something else. I think that it also depends on the person. If their very comfortable with themselves and who they are then more power to them. If you're not sure though then I'd advise not telling. You never know which one of your friends could be the backstabbing kind. Well I have to go. Blessed Be


I Have Always Been Quite Open About The Fact That I'm A... Sep 3rd. at 8:28:15 am UTC

Jeanette Woodward-Partridge (Oceanside, California US) Age: 45 - Email


I have always been quite open about the fact that I'm a witch. I wear my pentacle around my my neck in plain sight at all times. My husband, who is in the Navy, does the same thing. Why should we not? We are very proud and very contented with our Wiccian beliefs and are not shy about the fact that people know it. It is not a crime to be a pagan and we have the same rights to religious freedom that everyone else in this country has. This I might add is a choice that should not be made lightly as both me and my husband have had a few run ins with bible-thumping fundies.One of the incidents I encountered was at work. I was cornered by someone who had been eavesdropping on a conversation I had with a friend of mine about my beliefs, he was VERY aggressive, and started out by asking me why I wasn't afraid I was going to hell for my beliefs. At first I was willing to try to educate this person but it became apparent very quickly that he wasn't interested in a two way dialouge, so I just said no I wasn't afraid of going to a place I don't believe exists.He promptly went absolutlely berserk!In order to defuse the situation, and quite this lunatic down, I had to threaten him with HR if he didn't walk away and let the subject drop. Now this is the most extreme incident I've encountered, and I understand there are people who've had a lot worse things happen.

So, I repeat, make this decision only if you are serious as we are about your beliefs.


To Me It's Sad That This Is Even An Issue. No One... Sep 3rd. at 11:18:59 am UTC

TRINITY WOLF STAR (LAKEWOOD, Washington US) Age: 44 - Email


TO ME IT'S SAD THAT THIS IS EVEN AN ISSUE. NO ONE SHOULD BE IN YOUR FACE ABOUT ANYTHING. IF WE ALL" LIVED OUR SPIRITUALLITY" THERE WOULDN'T BE ANY ISSUE. WE WOULD ALL BE ENDORSING LOVE, PEACE, HAPPINESS NO MATTER WHAT OUR BELIEF SYSTEM IS. I WAS A JEHOVAHS WITNESS FOR 38 YEARS. MOST OF THE TIME I WAS VERY UNHAPPY WITH IT. BUT IT WAS ALL I KNEW AND ALL MY FAMILY WERE ALSO J.W. MY DAUGHTERS "SHARED" A BOOK WITH ME. IT WAS ONE BY SILVER RAVEN WOLF. NEEDLESS TO SAY I STARTED ON A NEW JOURNEY AND HAVEN'T LOOKED BACK. THE DOWN SIDE IS I'VE BEEN SHUNNED BY MY J.W. FAMILY SINCE THEN. WHAT'S FUNNY IS I'M SUCH A BETTER PERSON NOW. WHY DON'T WE ENCOURAGE INDIVIDUAL BELIEF SYSTEMS IF THEY TRUELY MAKE US BETTER PEOPLE. NOE MY BROTHER IN LAW HAS BECOME A CHISTIAN AND YOU KNOW WHO HIS TARGET IS? MY NIECES ARE NO LONGER ALLOWED OVER TO VISIT ME, HE DOWNGRADES ME TO THEM. IS MAKING THEM FEARFUL OF ME. THIS IS LOVE? THERE TRUELY ARE MANY PATHS TO THE TOP. CAN'T WE ALL JUST ENJOY THE HIKE AND LOVE THE SCENERY AS WE GO? WE LIVE IN A COUNTRY WHERE NO ONE SHOULD BE AFRAID TO COME OUT OF THE CLOSET, BROOM OR OTHER WISE. LET'S HELP MAKE THE WHOLE WORLD THAT WAY.


I Belive That Being In The Broom Closet Is A Necessity For... Sep 3rd. at 11:21:41 am UTC

Stephanie (Midwest City, Oklahoma US) Age: 29


I belive that being in the broom closet is a necessity for some people who are isolated in small conservative communities, who fear for the custody of their children, or who might work for a less than understanding employer.
Some people might repsond to this as, "Well the law is on your side, be loud and proud, don't hide, etc., " But it is not that easy. Those of you who have had to deal with legal issues, and retain the expensive talents of a lawyer know what's up. I have been workin with Religous Rights Advocacy and Activism for several years. Even if the law is technically on your side, there is no garantee that the outcome will be what you need or desire in such situations. The ACLU does not take every discrimination case that comes up and most people make too much to get legal aid.

When a person blows the whistle on discrimination and harassment, it is the right thing to do. But Whistle blowers are rarely rewarded with anything more substantial than words in such situations. You may be able to look at yourself in the mirror, but will you be able to pay the rent or put food in your children's mouths?

Doing what's right is always a good thing, but that does not mean that you will come out of such situations unscathed. Does that mean that we as individuals should do nothing? I believe that every tiny, incremental step away from hatered and discrimination and ignorance is a step in the right direction. I admire people who are willing to call attention to a problem inspite of the status quo, inspite of the possible outcomes. I have done it myself. It is a hard job, it can be scary, and unpleasant.

I will not pass judgement on a person who does not desire to be "out, " about their religion, Pagan or otherwise. Such actions are an act of self preservation. The right to privacy, the pursuit of happiness all fall into this category. If you choose to be out, if you choose to work in the public eye about religious issues, then that is your choice. Either way, in or out is a personal choice that rests on a multitude of considerations. Environment, job security, child rearing, neighbors, family, landlords, school officials and the big question, Is the individual Pagan in question comfortable with their faith and educated enough to deal with the complex barrage of questions that will ensue after they come out?
Anyone who has walked a mile in the Whistle Blower shoes can sympathize with what is really at stake.
Besides, some of the best representatives of this community are the good neighbors. When we as individuals are part of the mainstream community as volunteers, as good neighbors, as helpful and friendly people, the religious issue is more likely to be point of curiousity rather than hostility. What do you want your boss, your neighbors, or co-workers to think of first? Your personality or the word that you use to describe your religion that they may or may not (want to) understand?


While I Respect And Admire The People And Groups Who Fight For... Sep 3rd. at 12:21:56 pm UTC

Rhiannon Daughtermoon (Seattle, Washington US) Age: 33 - Email


While I respect and admire the people and groups who fight for paganism to be more understood and accepted, I feel ultimately it is a personal choice how "out" one decides to be. I myself am out with some people I meet, and do my best to help them understand what I'm about. But in other areas of my life, it it best for me to keep it to myself. I don't feel anyone else can decide this for me. Just as there is free choice of religion, so is there free choice of whom one decides to talk to about one's way of life. This was one of the many things which attracted me to the craft, freedom to be myself, and make my choices, with no harm to others. I am solitary, so perhaps if I were in a group, I would help the group in their efforts for acceptance, but as I am not, I prefer to keep to myself in some ways. However, I DO defend it when the situation presents itself.


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