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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 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)
| 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 |
UNFORTUNATELY THERE IS MUCH MISUNDERSTANDING OF OUR RELIGION, EVEN IN THIS NEW MILLENIUM. IF MORE WITCHES WOULD COME OUT OF "THE BROOM CLOSET" SO TO
SPEAK, MAYBE THERE COULD BE LESS IGNORANCE OF OUR COMMUNITY. AS THERE WOULD
BE MORE VOICES SPREADING THE WORD.
| 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?
| I Am Definitely Out Of The Broom Closet. I Am 16 Years... ||Aug 28th. at 6:30:06 pm EDT|
|Kitty Campbell (Siler City, North Carolina US) ||Age: 16 - Email |
I am definitely out of the broom closet. I am 16 years old and am the first to admit that I'm not an expert on Paganism. However, I've been studying it for about three years now and am slowing becoming more and more serious about it. I have been open about my interest in Paganism from the beginning. That is mostly due to my family. I am lucky enough to have incredibly open and understanding parents. My mom was more than happy to buy me my first books on Witchcraft and to loan me books on other spiritual paths. I never had to go through an awkward "coming out" with my parents or other members of my family. My choice was simply accepted. Outside of my family, it's a different story. People at school were afraid of me in 8th grade when I first started reading about Witchcraft. My best friends tried to convert me back to Christianity and then turned their backs on me when they realized I wasn't going to change my mind. Those people have since grown up and become more tolerant, but unfortunately not everyone has. I've heard the usual comments that most Pagan teenagers hear: "Are you a devil-worshipper?" "What does that star mean?" "You're not going to put a curse on me, are you?" I've faced mild persecution at school and at work. I say "mild" because compared to what some people go through, I've had it very easy. Maybe that's why it is so easy for me to be out of the broom closet. My parents raised me to stand up for what I believe in and have promised to support me as much as they can, as long as I'm not hurting anyone else or myself. I've never faced REAL persecution like death threats, physical attacks, or having my rights stripped from me. Those are the reasons I feel comfortable bringing my religion out into the open. I am truly one of the lucky ones. There are many teenagers at my high school who are Pagan, but no one would ever guess it. They are forced to hide their beliefs because of their friends, familys, jobs, clubs, sports teams, etc. Some of them would be thrown out in the street if their parents found out about their chosen path, and many of them would lose their friends and their social status. I would never say that they are cowardly or weak in their beliefs because they hide their religion. They have all the reason in the world to hide it. Fortunately, I don't. In a way, I feel like it is my duty to stand up to people in my area and say, "Look, I'm Pagan. I'm not going to hide or change who I am for you. I'm proud of what I believe, and I'm going to do all I can to increase understanding about it." That doesn't mean I go around shouting it in people's faces, but I have many pieces of jewelry and clothing with pentacles or Pagan references on them, not to mention a couple of Pagan bumper stickers. I put it out in the open that I am Pagan and a witch. If people want to know more about what I believe, they ask, and I answer them to the best of my ability. If I don't know how to answer a question, I redirect them to sources that might be able to give them the answer. I feel like I should stand up for the people who are unable to do it for themselves. I hope that by exposing people to Paganism and encouraging them to learn more about it, I will be helping other Pagan teens, not just myself, by increasing awareness about our religion. I know that I'm only one person, but I want to do my best to make a difference. I want more young Pagans to have the option (and the courage) to come out of the closet.
| I Was Raised As A Witch. I Was Never 'in' The Broom... ||Aug 28th. at 7:07:28 pm EDT|
|Tasha (Arlington, Texas US) ||Age: 20 |
I was raised as a witch. I was never 'in' the broom closet. I was never told when I was little that there was a stigma about the word 'witch'. I was persecuted and ostracized for my beliefs until high school. Even after I started high school, I was persecuted, but at least then I had friends who accepted me for myself. I think that some Pagans and Wiccans really do need to stay 'in' the broom closet. I moved to Texas 4 years ago, and I had never before faced such bigotry. I think that those of us that are very out spoken about our religion are doing a good job, but we are long way from the end of the education process.
| I Have Been A Witch And Priestess Of The Old Gods For... ||Aug 28th. at 7:11:04 pm EDT|
|Anufa Ellhorn (Vienna, Austria) ||Age: 35 - Email |
I have been a witch and priestess of the Old Gods for more than 15 years by now and live my religion very openly for the last ten of them.
The worst thing happening about paganism here in Austria is, that people hardly having a clue what they are talking about, are very outspoken in public and media. As they do not care what their appearance will bring for the pagan community (as there hardly is one over here...) they just talk about their "successfull magic operations", "hidden moonlight rituals" and "extatic celebrations". Never ever there is mentioned one word about paganism being a religion.
Allthough I talked to TV and radiostations a few times, I was much too uninteresting for being invited (also as I just wanted to do live talks or wanted to see the cut version befor broadcasting...). I was told that people would not be interested in the religious side of witchcraft (by the way since when is that a religion???) as this would not push quotes up.
So I understand perfectly well, that a lot of sisters and brothers of the Art who live a witches life over here, simply do not want to appear in public - they do not want to be intermingled with those, who were on TV up to now.
Maybe the time is not yet ripe over here...
| I Believe That We Should All Be Capable Of Expressing Our Religious... ||Aug 28th. at 8:32:59 pm EDT|
|Porphyry (Montreal, Quebec CA) ||Age: 25 |
I believe that we should all be capable of expressing our religious beliefs without having to worry about losing our jobs, family and in some circumstances our health.
By this I don't mean "in your face". Live your life and only speak of your religion if someone is interested in hearing about it. There is no need to try and glorify it by spouting it to anyone within earshot. It is really a deep bond you have with the gods.
With that said, I am out-of-the-closet with only my very closest friends. Religion pretty much stays out of the office except for a Catholic friend of mine. We discuss religion, but he does not seem terribly interested in what my personal religious beliefs are and doesn't spout his about either. We agree to hold our personal beliefs to ourselves.
Sadly my parents do not know. My father is a strict Roman Catholic and would most surely disown me. I kid thee not.
| My Group Has Worked On Public Relations For About Ten Years Now... ||Aug 28th. at 9:57:40 pm EDT|
|Kate Barton (Springfield, Missouri US) ||Age: 34 - Email |
My group has worked on public relations for about ten years now. Our main reason for becoming an educational coven was because I was pregnant with my first child. My brother and I were both raised Wiccan, and, as children will do, we told our friends we didn't go to church, we didn't believe Jesus was the only Son of God, and we believed in the Mother Goddess. This was in the mid-seventies, in northern Arkansas. Guess what the general reaction was?
As I grew older, I swore my children would never have to go through the things I did growing up. I decided, with my mother, my brother, and my Christian husband that the best thing we could do for our children was educate the public. It's been a raving success. So much so that I forget there are still other Pagans out there, fighting tooth and nail just to have the right to worship in their homes.
I'm all for coming out of the broom closet. Not in the militant, "in your face" manner some to be fond of, but with good information, a level head, and a friendly smile. Yes, we did get pushed down from time to time, but I couldn't see giving up. I have too much at stake.
Oh, and my children are now nine and seven. They have no problems at school with the other kids (or their parents). I like to think we actually have made a difference, even if it's just here at home.
| I Am Very, Very Glad That There Are Pagans In The Broom... ||Aug 28th. at 11:54:23 pm EDT|
|Bell (Winnipeg, Manitoba CA) ||Age: 50 |
I am very, very glad that there are pagans in the broom closet, as well as out. We need both. The people ÒoutÓ, who present the public face of the craft, are necessary for any path not utterly concealed.
But the people ÒinÓ preserve the teachings and the practice when society goes looney. They also practice in private - another way to be strong. And I assume they keep sensitive specialized teachings alive which should not be widely available, as do all mature religions.
IÕve been ÒoutÓ at work, home, even church, everywhere for ten years. This has included radio shows and articles and classes and whatnot. In my area, this is a non-issue, scarcely raises an eyebrow. In all that time IÕve only been rebuked twice (not counting the educated caller who corrected my Gaelic pronunciation, and I wish heÕd call back, I need coaching...)
But one reason for the freedom I enjoy is the hard work put in by other local pagans, before I came on the scene. I appreciate it. But I am very glad the secret ones are out there, to hide me under their beds should our government move even further to the right than they are already. I donÕt pretend it couldnÕt happen.
| Hmmm.... Where To Begin.... Might As Well Start At The Beginning, Since... ||Aug 29th. at 12:00:42 am EDT|
|Erik Miller (North Delta, British Columbia CA) ||Age: 15 - Email |
Hmmm.... Where to begin.... Might as well start at the beginning, since that's only logical. =P
When I first started to research Paganism and Wicca, I kept it as secret as anyone could keep anything. Hiding books under piles of clothes (already coneniently strewn about my room), performing rituals in the dead of the night, and all that gobbledegook-ish activity that most people do when they're starting. I kept everything to myself for about 7 months due to the fact that I seem to have a steadfast fear of rejection.
The first person I told was my school counselor. I always knew she was extremely open-minded (well duh, she's a counselor) but I was still afraid to tell her. Man was I glad after I told her. It felt as though a huge weight had been lifted off my chest. She had been way more knowledgeable about it than I thought, and even tought me a few things. =)
Then I decided to take the plunge and tell a few of my friends. I am unbelievably close with them, which I guess made it a bit harder to tell. As it turned out, 2 of them were wiccan and the other knew all about it. "I'm uhhh... wiccan." "Really?? Me too!" "Okay this is just wierd. I'm wiccan too!!" =P
Ack. I'm blathering again. One more experience and then I'll wrap this up.
Here's the prerequisite tale of anyone who's out of the broomcloset: the parents. My mother, who can be quite... temperamental, was the first one I told. I had no clue as to how she'd react because my family never talks about religion. Turns out she's incredibly open and the reason that faith is never discussed is because she's an aetheist (which I never knew) and my dad's an agnostic. My mother encouraged me to continue exploring spirituality and actually was glad that I was "becoming a better and inspired person." Now that was a shock. =)
Anyways, to wrap this up...
My position is for pagans to come out of the broomcloset if they're in an area where they can feel safe doing so. Self-evicting yourself from the closet in, say, a Bible-Belt town wouldn't be the smartest thing to do. If you DO decide to come out, tell the people you care about the most first, then just stop hiding it from everyone. That way, the ones you care about won't feel as though they're getting the "wholesale treatment" as I like to call it. And you never know, they just might surprise ya. =P
I'll be going back to school (grade 11) in a week, and it'll be the first time that I've worn my pentacle openly at school. Wish me luck! =)
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