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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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| During My First Year In College, I Often Saw These Funny Little... ||Aug 29th. at 12:03:04 am EDT|
|Nelli (Carmel Valley, California US) ||Age: 23 - Email |
During my first year in college, I often saw these funny little men running around with signs draped over their shoulders that said things like "repent" and "love Jesus", ranting about all the sinners. The list was long - it started with rock 'n' roll bands and went downhill from there. These fellows were always considered fair game for torment and mockery, as they had something insulting to say about nearly everyone on campus (it was a very liberal campus). One day, I passed one of these men as he was working himself into a fine froth about sin and redemption, and this incredible thing happened to me - i had this incredible moment of pure compassion. I *understood*, in the deepest sense of the word, this man's pain and fear. The depth of my compassion faded rather quickly - I am not very far on my own spiritual path - but the understanding remained. People like this man have to preach; they have to witness, to press their faith upon everyone they meet, becaus ethey are afraid that if even one person does not share their faith, it means, at some unconsious level, that they are wrong, and that their faith is meaningless. Yes, Christians are told that conversion is one of their duties, but it is all based in fear. Fear that acknowledging more than one religion invalidates one's faith. I have met "out" witches and pagans with this same frenetic energy, this same desperation to announce their faith, perhaps feeling that somehow, through announcing their faith, they are making it real. People who *know* their path are seldom prone to talking about it unless asked. there is a saying, "who is wisest, says least". Clearly, I am not very wise, as I have blathered on forever, and this is my second posting for this question... but anyway. I am writing to urge that we have compassion not only for those who must stay in their closets for fear of losing jobs, respect, family or lives, but for those who are "out" in a desparate attempt to make something real in their minds. These people are as frightened and lonely as those still"in", if for different reasons. And yes, while we are at it, I would urge compassion for those who try, through persuasion, logic, threats, etc., to "prove" to us that their faith is the only true faith. After all, the people they are really trying to convince are themselves. Blessed be...
| I Have One Foot In And One Foot Out. My Friends Know... ||Aug 29th. at 12:33:39 am EDT|
|Raven Moon (Belle Mead, New Jersey US) ||Age: 17 - Email |
I have one foot in and one foot out. My friends know I'm Wiccan, and so does my family. However, I don't walk around with a giant "WICCAN" sign on me. If someone makes a derogatory comment or has a question about my religion I answer/defend my religous beliefs. True, I don't tell many people about who I am. If I feel that the people abject to my views I try not to talk about them and throw them in thier face. I don't deny about who I am.
I feel that people should be comfortable with their religious choices. If it would make your situation especially difficult to come out of the broom the broom closet, then don't. If you feel proud of who you are (even in the face of discrimination) then remove your self from the broom closet.
One day, hopefully, every Witch, Wiccan, and Pagan will be able to be completely honest with everyone and stand in the living room with the rest of the world. Until that day comes, however, I feel it is the personal decision of the practicioner to stand in whatever storage space they feel necessary.
Those who make a bad name for Witches, Wiccans, and Pagans by being so open they are outside, and no longer in the living room with the rest of the world, are "too out". And those that stand in the dark so much so that they are afraid or unhappy are "too in". It's a delicate balance. It's a personal balance. One that is up to the individual.
| Wether I'm Actually "in" Or "out" Depends On What Circumstance You Are... ||Aug 29th. at 12:40:45 am EDT|
|Wayne Andrews (Siler City, North Carolina US) ||Age: 48 - Email |
Wether I'm actually "in" or "out" depends on what circumstance you are talking about. When considering my family, I'm *definitely* out!
About 5 months ago, I left a copy of the Wiccian Rede next to my computer in the bedroom, hoping Mom would discover it. Sure enough, she did with plenty of questions about the why's. The next month, I had no choice to continue living with my relatives. My brother who owns the property said that I had to plan living somewhere else. "I'm not going to let my brother practice Witchcraft around my kids!" was his response.
After a family discussion, my Mother told me that she respects my religion, and doesn't hold anything personally against me. This came as an utter shock!--Considering that my family are all Jehovah's Witnesses! Moving is not all bad--It can afford the opportunity for change. This kind of change, I welcomed.
For you Teenagers, this could be a real possibility to think about.
As far as other people in town or elsewhere, I'm partially "in" the Broom Closet. I need to work on courage. Perhaps it is best to take the advice of one person. Be polite and tell the other person that you respect the path that they have chosen. I have chosen my path. Have a nice day!
Thank you Fritz, for that wonderful inspiration!
Blessed Be Well,
Wayne Andrews, aka "Flying Eagle"
| Both For Me. I Don't Go Running Around Telling Everyone I Meet... ||Aug 29th. at 3:37:34 am EDT|
|Shanda (The Dalles, Oregon US) ||Age: 24 - Email |
Both for me. I don't go running around telling everyone I meet but I don't keep it to myself if asked. I do have one friend however that I don't bring up religon with at all, other than that I'm pretty open.
| For Quite A Long Time, I Was "in The Closet." I Guess... ||Aug 29th. at 3:39:21 am EDT|
|Gwydion Canu Bleidd (Memphis, Tennessee US) ||Age: 31 - Email |
For quite a long time, I was "in the closet." I guess that my story wouldn't sound a whole lot different from that of other Pagans--I really struggled with whether I should tell anyone, and I quite believed I was alone, despite the fact that I was brought to Paganism by (duh!) other Pagans. Then, too, there was that idea presented by the more cynical, jaded Pagans I've known that those new to the religion should be forced to stay locked in a closet for the first year or two (this also applies, in their opinion, to newly-converted Christians, who seek to convert everyone else while "spreading the Good News" hither, thither and yon). And having been burned a time or two at first, I did hold back on telling anyone; during my relationship with my ex-girlfriend who was a(n) (admittedly non-practicing) Southern Baptist, I was more or less held inside the closet by main force. She would demand of me that I *not* wear my Pagan jewelry or T-shirts in public here in Memphis, or around any of her friends. Consequently, I had a very hard time meeting anyone else, and my growth stagnated quite a bit until she and I broke up. Two months later, I attended the First Annual Pagan Pride Day here, and I haven't looked back since. I have simply decided that, in the words of Don Henley, "I will not go quietly/I will not lie down."
But then there is the question: Is such a bold move wise for everyone? Not necessarily. My current lover has two daughters she could easily lose if the wrong people found out she had been studying Paganism, and I already know I would do anything to protect her from that sort of harm, not to mention I would like those two little girls to know what it is that Mommy is studying, and that they too could become Pagan if they wanted to. That this sort of thing happens--that people lose jobs, lose children, and the respect of their own friends and families, and occasionally their homes and even lives because of their choice of religious beliefs--very much upsets me. To quote yet another songwriter, in this case Graham Nash: "In a land that's known as freedom/How can such a thing be fair?"
I think that the greatest reward of being out and known Pagan is that, once you are, you draw others to you and our community grows a little more and another voice is added to those already lifted in praise to the Goddess. I believe that it would be wonderful if everyone could be out and open, and that the rest of the world would, at last, accept us and embrace us as nice, normal folks who just follow an older (albeit revised and renewed) Path, who have real values and morals and virtues like them. Sadly, I fear we will always have intolerance to deal with, and thus it may be more prudent for some to remain in the closet; I would just be glad if those who are still very deeply in would allow themselves to be out at least to their fellow Pagans. Too many still aren't and won't be.
| After Reading Some Of The Problems People Have Telling Their Family, I... ||Aug 29th. at 3:50:02 am EDT|
|Renee (MistySpirit) (Whitehorse, Yukon CA) ||Age: 34 - Email |
After reading some of the problems people have telling their family, I have to count my blessings. I'm a practicing solitary in a small Northern community where there are only a handful of Witches in the entire Territory.
My husband & I share a home with my parents and there was no way I could hide something like this from them. One evening I sat them all down and explained everything. To my surpise, they were totally supportive!
My mother was more excited that I was (her sister is also a witch) and said that she knew I was "different" since I was young. I was told that throughout my family's history we had many relatives that were fey/seers/healers/shamans and that they knew this power had been handed down to me (I have been reading cards/people/animals for years).
My father, who is First Nations (Metis) said that he hoped that by studying Wicca I could learn more about my abilities / spiritual connections and that, as long as I didn't hurt anyone/myself he was happy for me.
My husband found it fasinating and the biggest problem I had was trying to convince him not to tell anyone.
I work at a place where Native Spirituality is encouraged and my beliefs would probably be totally accepted. However, I believe, like my parents (who are Catholic), that religion is a personal choice and I would not discuss my beliefs or anyone else's unless I'm asked. I have only been asked if I was a Witch once (while at a metaphysical store). At the time, I was rather skittish about "coming out in public" and said that I was a student of Wicca (which was/is true)which seemed to satisfy them.
| Personally, I Feel That One Should Readily "confess" To Being A Pagan... ||Aug 29th. at 8:33:56 am EDT|
|Shadwyll (Seattle, Washington US) ||Age: 25 |
Personally, I feel that one should readily "confess" to being a Pagan. In a day and age where "WWJD" (What Would Jesus Do) stickers are for sale in supermarket gumball machines, I've begun to grow concerned at the apparent lack of consideration for alternative religions, Pagan or not. Wearing my pentacle exposed to the world is like a reminder to myself and others -- there are other views and philosophies out there, not just "mainstream" Christianity. To think a mother really did (no joke) pull her son away from me after seeing my "satanic" symbol; it just goes to show that there needs to be a stronger (not militaristic, mind you) presence of Paganism presented to the world at large.
| I Am Out Of The Closet To My Husband, But In To... ||Aug 29th. at 8:53:14 am EDT|
|Willowhawk (Saginaw, Michigan US) ||Age: 28 - Email |
I am out of the closet to my husband, but in to the rest of the world. I don't hide my beliefs, but don't flaunt them either. If someone were to ask me about my beliefs, I would not say "I am Wiccan" because that closes their mind. Instead, I would tell them what I believe in and take it from there. It is good to point out "everyone could be wrong or right" because we never know. One of my favorite lines about religion comes from the movie Contact with Jodie Foster. Her character says "maybe people made up God so they wouldn't feel so small and alone in the universe".
| I Used To Be Both In And Out. I Live Six Hours... ||Aug 29th. at 8:56:11 am EDT|
|Grey (Carbondale, Illinois US) ||Age: 24 - Email |
I used to be both in and out. I live six hours from my (Catholic) family and so felt comfortable being out in my local community, but I was not out to my family, save for a select few. As part of my being and out, proud Pagan I agreed to be interviewed with another local Pagan for an article about Samhain in the local paper. Since it was a very local paper I just used my real name, as I said, around here anyone who knows me knows I'm Pagan. However, since then that paper has gone online and archived all it's articles, and my father happened to find that article when he was doing an online search on the family name this past July. So I am now out to my entire family. It's not as bad as I thought it would be. They don't totally understand, and are far from happy about it, but they still love me and are respecting my choice.
| I Don't Know If I Would Be Considered In Or Out. To... ||Aug 29th. at 10:26:21 am EDT|
|Kaicielia BlueDragon (Madison, Wisconsin US) ||Age: 24 - Email |
I don't know if I would be considered in or out. To anyone who walks into my house, my religious path is obvious. With books such as "To Ride a Silver Broomstick, " "Circle Round, " and "Wiccacraft for Families" displayed prominently in my living room, it would be hard for anyone to not know. And, when asked, I always answer truthfully, tactfully leaving the "W" word out of the conversation, because I have come to see that the word itself is what so many people have a problem with.
If the subject of religion or beliefs does not come up, however, I do not volunteer information. My books alone have caused enough grief with in-laws that I sometimes fear some conspiracy to separate me from my hubby and children. These fears are unfounded and based in an active imagination. The fears, however, are very real for me.
Yesterday was my son's first day of Kindergarten, and this will be a major turn in my life. I have the opportunity to help educate the youngest to what is true and false. I believe that, although I will do so low key and at times at a distance, I should do it. To avoid seeing my son go through much of what I have and know that I did nothing to temper the insults and possible violence when I had the chance, I will do what I can.
| Hmmm....closets....closed And Cramped Places That Sometimes Are An Unfortunate Necessity... ||Aug 29th. at 10:30:02 am EDT|
|Amber/Kim (Toronto area, Ontario CA) ||Age: 18 - Email |
Hmmm....closets....closed and cramped places that sometimes are an unfortunate necessity of our lives. I am happy to say that now I am out of the broom closet. *I simply found there wasn't enough oxygen and I was getting dizzy. :oP* I had a couple of friends who had known about it from the get go because we became interested in it together. Growing up I studied all kinds of fun topics. From spirits to psychics to stones. I love stones. Just ask my friends. I could spend about 100 years in the stones area of the museum just because I feel so at peace there. I love to go to them and feel the vibrations deep within them. Some of my friends think Im crazy but they know that I am wiccan so they understand. Even before my friends at school knew about it I was the odd one of the group. I didn't mind, I am who I am and I know that my friends love me for who I am. Whether or not others accept me for me is inconsequential. Either they will accept me or not. I used to wear my pentacle necklace all the time. It is one of my favorite symbols and will often be seen etched in my notebooks but I now wear my goddess pendent. It is a pendent of the goddess drawing down the moon with a moonstone as the moon. I feel in love with it when I saw it. I find that by wearing it I avoid a lot of the grief I may recieve because of the negative stereotypes on the pentacle and because this way only people who have done at least some research will recognize it. I love to talk about my beliefs and learn about others beliefs so I am always open to people asking me questions. I dont broadcast it to the world though. Im sure that not everyone in my school knows I am wiccan cause not everyone knows me but I will never hide who I am. *can you tell I ramble a little?* :o) Ah well. To all those pagans in the closet because they have to be, be patient, there will come a time in your life when those walls will fall away and you will be able to show the world who you really are. To those who are in the closet because they chose to be, be true to yourselves. Your religion and relationship to the bright lady and lord are not for public viewing but it can get lonely sometimes. To those who are out no matter what, way to go. Its people who are out there answering questions and educating others about the truths of our religions that are helping to change the world.
Brightest Blessings to all who read this,
~If you love, you will never be alone~
| I Am Out Of The Closet! I Am A 17-year Old... ||Aug 29th. at 10:42:38 am EDT|
|Kathleen (Windsor, Ontario CA) ||Age: 17 - Email |
I am out of the closet! I am a 17-year old Wiccan who decided that she wanted an answer when somebody asked what religion she was, she wanted an answer when asked if she believed in God, or Heaven, or Hell. She wanted a religious side and so she did what felt was right, she came out of the closet.
First obstacle, her parents, it all started with discussions about religion and what they believed in, then it progressed to what they thought of witches and witchcraft, and finally, she said it, "Mom, I am a witch." It went over not so bad with mom, although she didn't want to talk about it, however, with her dad, it didn't go so hot. "No daughter of mine will be worshipping Satan." he called. It has now been almost a year since this 17-year old girl has come out to her parents, they are more accepting now, although they still don't like to talk about it. However, she is happy that she told her parents.
Second obstacle, friends, this wasn't as hard for her as her friends were genuinly interested in Witchcrart too. So they learned about it together. However, one friend went off into Black Magic and she didn't want anything to do with that. Another friend was interested but her Devout Christian Parents would have killed her if they found out, so she stopped reading about it. The other friend was interested a little but after finding out that it wasn't all spells and fun, slowly lost interest, so she was basically all by herself now.
She decided not to tell her Jewish family, her Aunts, Uncles, Bubby and Cousins. That was probably a wise choice, after all, her Bubby (Grandmother) wanted nothing to do with her Christian Mother and Son from a previous relationship because they weren't Jewish. Luckily, Bubby became more accepting when she was born. She is glad they are all okay now, but bringing up Witchcraft would surely ruin everything.
This 17-year old girl believes that how open she is was a good decision for her. She thinks that if others came out, the discrimination towards Pagans and Witches wouldn't be so large, but can understand why some prefer not to speak about it and in turn, respects their wishes.
She is totally out at school and work and although she is sometimes teased or harassed at school, it has been dealt with and now its pretty much okay, those who don't want to talk to her, don't and those who are interested, do. At work, they are all open-minded and most have not heard of Wicca or Paganism and so are very interested in learning more.
Yep, this girl believes she made the right choice and hopes that everyone else will too. She can't wait to see how many others are like her in her neighbourhood.
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