The opinions posted on the Pagan Perspective pages are those of individuals and are not neccessarily shared or endorsed by the Witches' Voice inc.
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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| 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.
| I Believe This Should Be A Individual Choice As To Whether To... ||Aug 29th. at 10:58:04 am EDT|
|EMILY DARLENE WARD (MYRTLE BEACH, South Carolina US) ||Age: 41 - Email |
i believe this should be a individual choice as to whether to remain hidden, or to go out in the open. there is still the fear of persecution in the hearts of some of the gentle folk. i have read about the witch inquisitions. it is not something i like to think about, it was gruesome. in our society, we should be able to worship what ever religion we choose.( or believe or do what we choose, as long as it does not harm others) most people fear magic because it can be very powerful, and it can be dangerous if not used correctly. most people that are scared of something either want to destroy what they are scared of, or the run from it, or they go into denial about it. it is a shame that people condem something, and they do not even bother to try to find out and research what it is about.
my husband calls me a witch, and he knows that i read a lot about witchcraft, dreams, and other paranormal subjects. it does not bother him. my family knows i am a strange person, i always have been strange to other people. they may not understand what i am, but they still love me.
i know that there is a powerful (invisible yet at some times visible) force in this world that can not be explained. i call it magic. it is wonderful and it can not be tamed by any one. it is all around us in this world if we take the time to tune in to it. it has a will and life force of it's own.
we still do not know whether the public will turn on people that are different. mass hesteria is something that can not be predicted, and we never know what the out come will be. ignorance is the culprit and the reason why these things happen. let us hope that the people of the world has grown in knowledge since the time of the inquisition, and has learned from it's mistakes.
this is all that i can write about this subject for now. i have to sign off.
| I'm Out At Home, But More Reserved At Work. While I Don't... ||Aug 29th. at 11:32:11 am EDT|
|Brigit Murray (Phoenix, Arizona US) ||Age: 30 - Email |
I'm out at home, but more reserved at work. While I don't conceal it, I do remain subtle about it, even though I know my group is most likely very open-minded. There are people with WWJD prominently displayed on their badge holder, always on their person, and while I feel a great deal of resentment that they can be so open, I also fear the backlash if I were so in your face as well. There's also someone here with pagan bumperstickers on their car, so I feel if they can be so open, so can I. It's a difficult decision either way.
Mostly I feel that it needn't significantly change what I do or how I act. I haven't changed my personal style, and I feel comfortable wearing a Goddess pendant now and then, and I've worn my pentacle a few times, too, so while I haven't announced anything, I am not hiding anything, either. I even have a small altar set up on my desk! The only group I'm totally "in" to is my Marriage Encounter group, which is all Catholic except for my husband and I.
| I Consider Myself "out", But I Do Not Proclaim My Beliefs Everywhere... ||Aug 29th. at 11:49:14 am EDT|
|Pam (Exeter, Pennsylvania US) ||Age: 25 |
I consider myself "out", but I do not proclaim my beliefs everywhere I go. My family does not know, through my telling them anyway. There are books and other things in my house that are plain to see and apparent what they relate to. I do not lie, and if questions come up about my beliefs, I will answer them honestly. I find it much better to answer individual questions people may ask about me, than to start off saying "OK, I'm a Witch", and then have to explain myself up against their "incorrect" conception of what a Witch is. It is much easier to explain my beliefs, and if someone wants to know what I would be called, they are surprised, rather than scared and close-minded, that I am a Witch.
I don't appreciate anyone throwing their religion in my face, and I do not do it to others.
| My Wife And I Are Out Of The Broom Closet And Our... ||Aug 29th. at 11:59:19 am EDT|
|Ed Broneske (Roseville, California US) ||Age: 34 - Email |
My wife and I are out of the broom closet and our raising our children to understand the religion of their ancestors. We are not in you face out, but we actively discuss our views with others who ask. We have told our parents and siblings and a few of our surrounding neighbors. We told the neighbors because we are both very active in a coven and have a lot of events at the house from BBQs to ritual and didn't need the headache of dealing with a spooked neighbor and/or the police. We have pentacles on our vehicles and have been involved in public rituals. I wear my Thorrs hammer in plain sight along with a pentacle surrounded by the runes (I am more Asatruar than wiccan, while my wife is a an eclectic wiccan). If I am approached and asked about my jewelry or about the bumper stickers on the cars, I will answer openly. I do not "witness" or go about sharing my faith because it is private. We do have handouts with the information that we obtained from Witches Vox (with the proper credit given) to snyone who ask questions. I am also working with my fellow coveners to create a one day seminar that we can inform the law enforcement agencies of our practices, to dispell the propaganda that is out there against the Heathens and Pagans.
With the question of everyone should be in or out I believe is up to the individual and their comfort level.
When we decided to come out, we thought about the risk and they were greater for me than my wife. My view was the greater the risk, the greater the reward, but I also created a way to minimalize the risks. My family (mother & grandmother are very fundamental christians) so I decided to let them know last and when I was prepared for the arguement and preaching and what would the ultimate good/harm ration would be. Also having a 5 year old doesn't leave much room to keep secrets from Grandma and the schools (ha ha). I told my mom that I have become a Heathen, I told her why, and I told her that we are teaching our children the pagan ways. I explained to her that our beliefs are similar to the native americans but are based upon the indiginous religions of northern Europe. I then extinguished her fear that I would not allow the boys to go to church or read the bible by telling her that they are individuals and have a right to choose their own path and I want them to study all of the religions to have an understanding and to make an educated choice.
At work I openly wear my Thorr's Hammer and Pentacle openly, if anyone ask, I answer them. I answer any question that they may have or a question I sense that they want to ask, but are trying to be PC.
We have not had any major problems since coming out, mostly we have people who act a little afraid because of the unknown facter, but after a few jokes and a little Q&A most people are very accepting. We try to be a good example of being a good neighbor, good worker, and an upstanding citizen in the community by being active in the school and any other way that we can make a difference. I usually get one of two responses the first is acceptance maybe even a little joking, the other is that the individual (usually the very zealous christians), will have nothing to do with us and leave us be.
I think that we are lucky to be living in California where people are a little more laid back and accepting of diversity. Things may be a little different if we lived in the South or any part of the Bible-belt. Where the ignorants would still burn the witches if they could get away with it.
| To Be Honest, I'd Say I'm About Halfway Out. All My Friends... ||Aug 29th. at 11:59:19 am EDT|
|Tinnekke Bebout (South Bend, Indiana US) ||Age: 33 - Email |
To be honest, I'd say I'm about halfway out. All my friends know. Some of my family knows, I don't hide it in my house. (Considering my Church of All Worlds membership certificate hangs in the computer room, I'd say it's obvious if anyone pays attention.) I don't wear a pentacle because I have a gorgeous triple moon necklace with a moonstone as the full moon that I wear instead. I never tuck it in my shirt or hide it in any way. Of course most folks just think it's a beautiful piece of jewelry going by the comments I get, but it is still right there for people to see. I'm also on the BoD of our local Pagan group, and we do outreach with local authorities and the schools and such, so I guess I am pretty out to the government seeing as how my legal name is signed on the letters from the group. However, I am in the closet at work. I work in an "at will" state, which means that my employers can fire me for no reason whatsoever if they get a bug up their butt, and there's diddly I can do about it unless I have a contract. Since I don't and my job is one of the few in my area in my field, I have found it wiser to stay closeted on that front - especially seeing as how the owners are radical Christians. Nice people, but I don't think they'd take it too well.
I think it has to be an individual decision whether or not folks come out, and they have to do it at their own pace. Outing someone is deliberate harm in my book. No one has the right to make another's choices on this issue ever.
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