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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: 24,936,534  

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Reponses: 181

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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. Reverse Sort 

I'm "in The Broom Closet"... My Family Is A Stric Group Of... Aug 28th. at 3:22:28 pm EDT

Mike Johnson (North Canton, Ohio US) Age: 16 - Email

I'm "in the broom closet"... my family is a stric group of Navarenes, and my girlfriend's family is a strict group of Catholics... so I tend to keep my views private or face beeing called an evil heathen :p

I Think We Are Luckier In The Uk, People Seem Either Less... Aug 28th. at 3:50:56 pm EDT

Constance (Stoke on Trent, , England UK) Age: 51 - Email

I think we are luckier in the UK, people seem either less Christian with a Capital C or maybe just more tolerant - or should that be apathetic!

Anyway, I have not long been a pagan, but have never had the slightest problem. Nobody seems even shocked or horrified, most quite interested in knowing more, and I have met some wonderful people!
Keep up the good work, it is great to have such an uptodate, interesting and intelligent site.

Blessed be,

One Foot Out The Door Best Describes Me. I Consider Myself Very... Aug 28th. at 3:52:10 pm EDT

Aoifa - Dawn Colleen (Muskogee, Oklahoma US) Age: 32 - Email

One foot out the door best describes me. I consider myself very fortunate to have grown-up in San Jose, CA - a very open minded area. I 'found' wicca while in college and have been on this path since then. I married, my husband knowing of my faith, and we moved to Yreka, a small town in Northern CA. Although small, this town still has a open mind and so I practiced freely. Although I do not voice my opinions unless asked, I try to be 'on the up & up' with those around me. I have my books & symbols at home and work.

My husband then joined the U.S. Army & we were stationed in Germany for 3 years. I was pleasently surprised on the official Army policy regarding Wicca/Paganism. While not working & pregnant with our 2nd child, all this allowed me to learn more of myself, gain much self confidence, and follow the path closer than ever before.

Since then we have moved to Muskogee, OK. Now I'm faced with a dilema! My personal feelings is that this is a very 'right' christian town. Almost daily the local newspaper prints opinions in favor of the 10 Commandments posted in schools, school prayer, outcasting or worse to homosexuals, etc. I have gotten dirty looks from neighbors & have been reported for possible child abuse. I'm quite lucky to have more understanding co-workers & daycare provider, however I still catch myself trying to close the broom closet door at times. I am a Witch!! I believe if I close the door now it would be like cutting off my arm, it's who I am now, today. Incidentally, I'm having more of a culture shock here than I did in Germany!

Fortunately my husband is once again stationed in Germany & I hope to be returning there within the next few months. To those of us that live in towns like Muskogee, hang in there. Remember you can still voice your opinions in the local paper without revealing your faith. Point out and/or question *their* hatred of anything different than *themselves*. Please don't allow them to discourage you along your path. To those of us that live in more 'open' areas, relish it!!

Eek! - This Is A Rough One. Personally, I'm Out ... Have Been For... Aug 28th. at 3:58:19 pm EDT

Eowyn Forestchilde (Western, Massachusetts US) Age: 27 - Email

EEK! - This is a rough one. Personally, I'm out ... have been for years. And have the scars to prove it. I have learned something through my travels. You can be out without being in everybody's face about it. I wear my jewelry and my car has bumper stickers, but I don't go around with a wall-clock sized pent on my chest trying make it ok to be Pagan. Being obnoxious is never ok ... it just being obnoxious.

Now, don't get me wrong! I'm not saying that everyone who wears a pent is obnoxious. There's something to be said for being subtle, is all. That, and I understand that there is a time for discretion. As they say, discretion is the better part of valor. There is a time and a place for everything ... and coming out of the Broom Closet during your divorce proceeding when your partner is trying to get custody of the kids is not the one of those times.

Neither is coming out to your grandmother on her death-bed. Aside from that.... We have to remember what was said during WWII, (& I'll paraphrase 'cuz I only know the upshot of the statement); First they came for the Jews, but I wasn't Jewish so I said nothing. Then they came for the Catholics, again I said nothing because I wasn't Catholic. Then it was me ... and there was no one left to speak. We have to remember that the more we are silent, the more they take away. And if we can't get it together, they'll take it all before we know it.

People have to do what makes them comfortable. If they are not ready to be out, that is their perogitive. But those same people should be ready to accept the consequences of their actions, whatever the decision. They need to remember that there are others out there fighting and suffering for THEIR freedoms as well. I have lost friendships and have come close to losing both housing and employment. However, I have never gone back into the Broom Closet, regardless of the situation. I understand why people stay in the Broom Closet. I know about hatred and bigotry first hand. I also know the penalty for silence. Do we want some little girl's memoirs being read by future generations while people cluck about the atrocities done to the Pagans?

I hate to be like that, but it is the only way to present it. Collectively, I think we are the smallest and most silent minority. I know why, and I know why it has to stop. I also know that to force someone into harm's way is no better than to shove them in front of a moving bus. In the end, the decision lies with each person. The community suffers at both the hands of the 'fundie' Pagan & the 'ostrich' Pagan. And somewhere in the middle lies peace.

I Have Been Out Of The Broomcloset Since May 2000, And Have... Aug 28th. at 4:25:33 pm EDT

Clearwater (Clemson, South Carolina US) Age: 20 - Email

I have been out of the broomcloset since May 2000, and have generally found it much more enjoyable being open about my beliefs. Granted, I don't run down streets, yelling, "Hey, everyone, I'm Pagan!" ( that would just be... odd, to say the least), but I do wear a pentacle and my beliefs often come through in the various conversations we have at college, both in and out of class.

One very pleasant surprise for me was how readily my parents accepted my decision. I told my mom first because I wanted my dad to have another informed person to discuss it with after I told him. In general, she was much better informed than I had expected her to be, as was my father. There were two main reasons I told them about my beliefs: First, I'm very close to my family, and I really wanted to be able to share some of the most moving and beautiful experiences of my life with them. Second, I got tired of always having to hide my tools and pentacle whenever they came to visit.

I decided to come out of the broomcloset for several reasons. Mostly, I just got sick of keeping it to myself, of having to make up reasons to turn my friends down when they invited me to church. The more I considered being open about my beliefs, the more reasons I found for me to do so. I realized that it would make it much easier for me to find others who follow a similar path, and that I would have a much easier time finding a teacher. Finally, I realized that the only way to combat the negative perception people have of Pagans was by stepping up and giving an example. This has also lead me to live a better life, because I want to be sure I set a good example. I may not be perfect, but at least I do what I can to make people's lives easier.

To me, being out of the broomcloset is more than wearing a pentacle and telling people you're a Witch/Pagan, it is a whole state of mind. It requires you to be comfortable enough with your beliefs to share them with others, whether they will accept them or not. It means that you can have a conversation with someone with different beliefs and respect their viewpoint; otherwise you have no right to ask them to respect yours. It can be a wonderful experience when done at the right time in the right place, both of which each of us has to determine for ourselves. Sure, people have challenged my beliefs, but in the end these challenges only help me to further my knowledge of myself and my religion.

I no longer look at the world as I did from within the closet, and I have found that people are usually much more likely to accept my beliefs than I had expected a year ago. I don't believe that anyone has the duty to share their beliefs with the world. However, I do believe that each of us should educate those who are interested about our beliefs, and help disprove the mythos the media has used to twist our religion. And that can be done from either side of the broomcloset.

To Each His Own I Think. I Don't Think That People Are... Aug 28th. at 4:51:49 pm EDT

Greg Nacu (Kingston, Ontario CA) Age: 19 - Email

To each his own I think. I don't think that people are "reaping the benefits" by staying in the shadows. In certain regions of this earth it is more safe to be open. And in certain regions it is dangerous. It all depends on the persons situation. I came out, but I had to face my family and local minister. Friends were never a problem. Teachers at school are Very tolerant. And I simply never chose to tell my employer(s).

Depends On Your Situation, No? I Know Some Pagans In Colorado Springs... Aug 28th. at 5:05:58 pm EDT

Adelandaya BirchGrove (DeKalb, Illinois US) Age: 27 - Email

Depends on your situation, no?

I know some Pagans in Colorado Springs. I have no problem with them being in the closet in Amendment 2 land, where "religion" means Christian and the American Family Association rules. I hope no one else has a problem with people choosing not to trumpet their religious values in a place where both no one would listen and it would get them in severe trouble.

On the other hand, I live in a small college town in the Midwest which recently passed a human rights ordinance giving civil rights protections to homosexual people. While there are some real rednecks in our town, there's also a thriving Unitarian church and a good number of open minded people. I haven't tried to hide my pentacle in the streets, but to be cautious I don't wear it to job interviews. I'm not hiding what I am, but I'm not going out of my way to visit conservative churches where I used to worship and yelling "I'm a Pagan and I don't believe it!" I'd say I'm lucky. I've been wearing my pentacle since I made it in June, and no one's said anything about it other than my immediate friends and family (who are very open).

Probably every minority religion in this country has the same questions. I visit atheist Web sites too, and the people there also are divided on whether to push what they (don't) believe or to just be who they are quietly, without making waves. Ultimately, however, I hope we realize that as a Pagan community we believe each of us has to decide for her/himSELF what to do about our faith. It's not our job as non-fundamentalists to TELL Pagans they have to either hide what they are or shout it from the rooftops.

Thank the Goddess for that!

I Don't Hide The Fact That I'm Wiccan, But I Tend Not... Aug 28th. at 5:16:40 pm EDT

Pandora (Auburn, Alabama US) Age: 22 - Email

I don't hide the fact that I'm Wiccan, but I tend not to throw it in people's faces. First and foremost is the fact that I grew up in the heart of the bible belt, good ol` Dixie. My grandfather was a pastor and I have 7 aunts and uncles who are so close-knit and Christian that I would lose their respect, I know I would. Some things have happened with them lately that demonstrates to me no matter how old you get, you can still behave like a 4 year old. My mother has found my books. I don't hide them when my parents come over. But she and I have never really sat down and discussed it. My dad pretends not to see.
To everyone else I see no reason in covering up the fact that I'm Wiccan. It is nothing I am ashamed of. Before Wicca I felt hollow. Now I feel elation at everything I see. Like a child seeing it for the first time. I don't want to hide that from anyone, but I do think one should use just a tad of discretion. If for no other reason that for your own protection. Don't lie about it, but just watch your back. :o)

Brightest Blessings!

Even In Silicon Valley, California, Where I Live And Enjoy The Company... Aug 28th. at 5:38:31 pm EDT

Argante Comyn (Silicon Valley, California US) Age: 32 - Email

Even in Silicon Valley, California, where I live and enjoy the company of a LARGE Pagan community, one can't be sure exactly who one is dealing with. I've noticed over the years that non-Pagan people with children are especially wary of anyone "different", so while all of my close family and friends know that I am Wiccan, I generally don't wear a pentacle in public, and I have not "come out" at work. I work at a private school where my being completely honest about my faith might well cost me my job. Sad, but true! By the way...anyone looking for a very competent web content writer is invited to contact me. I would love somebody to spirit me away from the kiddie world (and more importantly its protective parents) to a place where I can be completely myself. :) Bright blessings, Argante

Unfortunately There Is Much Misunderstanding Of Our Religion,even In This New... Aug 28th. at 5:45:59 pm EDT

M. SCHOBER (RICHARDSON, Texas US) Age: 40 - Email


Regarding Those Who May Believe "innies" Are Reaping Rewards: I Try To... Aug 28th. at 6:05:01 pm EDT

Lynne-Renee Reed (St. Louis, Missouri US) Age: 28 - Email

Regarding those who may believe "innies" are reaping rewards: I try to answer truthfully but as obliquely as possible to people I don't know in my neighbourhood. When questioned by those with whom I have a true acquaintance, I will be extremely explicit about my beliefs yet I don't say "Wiccan."
If anyone thinks I'm having a party dancing on a wire, they're wrong. On the other hand, I hear those saying, "Well if it's that bad just 'come out.'"

Let me tell you a little story. I'll keep it very short. I live in the Bible Belt, in Missouri. I have been in touch with nature and the Mother and the Father since I can remember. I was raised 4th generation to use certain "prayers" and "mysterious ways" to help others. I was taught not to speak in depth about my connection to divinity even with my family until I was certain it was "safe" with that person.
This includes my father, not of the family "way."

I never spoke out about paganism, Wicca or Satanism yet during my junior year of high school, a case was brought against me to the Superintendant of Schools by several Christian churches in a radius of 50 miles. I was called a Satanist (I don't believe in Satan or hell--if there is a hell, I lived through it then), the "High Priestess of a cult" and numerous other things: prostitute, murderess (all those sacrifices, don't you know)...I was not allowed to defend myself nor attend the many meetings and hearings involved. No administrator would talk to me. My mother tried to convince me to quit school (hush, hush). The "trials" went through and I was aquitted of being a witch and/or endangering children (their main legal complaint). It does amuse me to know indeed, I am a witch although, not trained by a coven.

"REAPING THE BENEFITS?" You should know even my silence paid for ANYONE if they've become a witch after 1988. I've been physically beaten, let alone the other harmful things done. I quietly held my head high. I still shall.

I'm New To The Path, Still In The Study Phase, Really (as... Aug 28th. at 6:29:55 pm EDT

Sprite (Portland, Oregon US) Age: 25

I'm new to the path, still in the study phase, really (as if the study phase ever ends). My spiritual path has always been a very personal issue to me, probably because up until recently, I have not known of many who agree with my views. Only those closest to me know that I am studying pagan beliefs, and only those really, really close to me know that I have dedicated myself to this spiritual path. It's not so much that I am in the closet, just that I have always been one that keeps my spirituality pretty much to myself unless asked. If asked, I would be honest. However, I do see the need to be active in fighting for religious freedom, and so I don't think that, once I have all my ducks in a row, the keeping pretty much to myself tact will work anymore. I was inspired last night by reading "Horton hears a who?" (If you haven't picked it up since you were a kid, you really should read it. We all have rights that are inviolate, and it may be that even the least of us adding our voice to the cry for justice will be what makes that cry heard. We can all make a difference, and if we do not cry out for the injustice done to another, who will cry out for us?

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