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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.
|| Reverse Sort
| Since I Am Most Of The Way Out Of The Closet, I... ||Aug 28th. at 12:42:46 am EDT|
|catlady (saskatoon, Saskatchewan CA) ||Age: 50 |
Since I am most of the way out of the closet, I can understand both sides of the problem. I have told some, but not all of my friends and none of my family. Why? More out of respect for them and their beliefs than concern about how it will affect me. On the other hand, I have a very dear friend who practices wicca, but lives in a small, highly intollerant, town, where if it were known she is a practicing witch would make her life a living hell. So the issue isn't all black or white. I guess each of us has to decide what is best in our given situation. If that sounds like fence-sitting, well call me a pumpkin and leave it at that.
| I Believe That This Is A Very Individual Thing. Just As A... ||Aug 28th. at 1:02:46 am EDT|
|kelly (las vegas, Nevada US) ||Age: 51 |
I believe that this is a very individual thing. Just as a persons religion is personal and in their heart, the decision to be vocal about ones religion is that persons decision to make. Some people are good at vocalizing about their beliefs, however the majority of those seem to be Christians such as their many evangelists. I personally carry my religion very secure in my heart.
| I Am Out Of The Broom Closet, And Have Been For As... ||Aug 28th. at 1:23:23 am EDT|
|Nelli (Carmel Valley, California US) ||Age: 23 |
I am out of the broom closet, and have been for as long as I have been practicing - about 10 years now. I am not, however, interested in proclaiming my beliefs to all and sundry whether or not they care. "Coming out" to my parents was never an issue; neither were terribly religious as I was growing up, and both allowed me to do my own exploration about religion. At this point, my father is in denial (he has become much more devout - and christian - as he has aged) and insists on refering to me as agnostic... which doen't bother me, as it is technically true. I don't claim to have any special corner on The Truth, and am mostly finding my way blindly down a very windy (as in curvy, not breezy) path in the general direction of Truth. My mother is Buddhist, and is very interested in my beliefs. As for the world at large: I wear a pentacle ring and necklace - the necklace is one of those nifty ones that has a pentacle in the middle, and 5 other major religious symbols between each point. Most people don't ask. Many people compliment me on it; I'm actually rather pleased and surprised about how many people recognize it and react with courtesy instead of fear (but then, I live in California - a notoriously cutting edge and liberal place, for the most part). Many others assume it is a Star of David, and ask if I am jewish. Others ask what it means, and a few have asked me if I am satanic (at which point I plaster on a smile, clench my jaw, and remain very pleasent and gentle). To these last few, I give a brief explanation of my beliefs, nature based religion, blah blah, celebrate the seasons, blah blah, honor and respect mother earth and all beings, etc. etc. You all know the drill, I'm sure. The reactions I get range from overt interest, through mild confusion, to attempts at conversion - pretty standard stuff.
I have always been too stubborn to hide or lie about my beliefs, even when in fourth grade I decided that God doesn't exist, and my classmates made all those wonderful comments about how long I was going to burn in hell - whatever. I never said anything unless they asked, and I still hold to that policy. Religion is a personal, private affair, and beyond educating people who ask about what my beliefs are, I just keep it to myself.
Too far out any wiccan equivalent of Pat Robertson. Too far out is the little girl running around school claiming she's put spells on everyone, or the person who can't talk about anything but their wonderful, mystical, unique faith. People who feel the need to get on a pulpit uninvited, or to constantly declare their beliefs to the world, are insecure about themselves and their faith, and are using religion as a tool for attention or ego-boosting.
I wish that this were the kind of world in which no one ever felt like they had reason to hide their spirituality, but the bald truth is that there are people dying all over the world for their religion, hidden or not, and many more people who suffer all kinds of persecution because of their faith. I would encourage everyone to come out of whatever religious closet they are in, just so that we can all see how many like-minded individuals there are out there, as well as how many diverse spiritualities there are. However, I could never condemn anyone who wishes to keep their lives and the lives of their loved ones safe be remaining "in". Religion and spirituality are, as I have said before, very personal and private things. One needn't declare one's faith openly to be devout, and the extent to which anyone shares his/her religion with others is entirely up to her/him.
| What An Extremely Interesting Question, The Broom Closet. I Am Out To... ||Aug 28th. at 1:34:11 am EDT|
|Gretchen Williams (Santa Rosa, California US) ||Age: 50 - Email |
What an extremely interesting question, the broom closet. I am out to all my friends. I guess there are one or two people back east who don't know yet, I don't want to create a misunderstanding across 3000 miles. When I see those people in person I will tell them.
We like to think that California is so tolerant, but I have experienced being snubbed and scapegoated here, in addition to firming up some fabulous friendships, when I come out. It's always a risk. You just never can be sure how the other person will respond. Some people have really surprised me. One man I met at a party was enjoying a long conversation with me, until he asked what my pentacle meant. I tried to beat around the bush by telling him it was a pagan symbol, but he pinned me down. So I told him I was a witch, and he didn't say another word to me the rest of the night. But two long-time friends who didn't know I was practicing are now members of my coven. How could that have happened if I never told them? In general, I am in favor of telling people, unless there is a safety issue.
My family are all atheists, and not terribly tolerant, so I might share with them and I might not. For the time being I have not. Jesus had something on the ball when he told his students not to cast their pearls before swine, or else they will just trample on your precious gems and then rip you apart. My family are not exactly swine, okay, but they (yes, it is unanimous) firmly hold the opinion that any and all spiritual seeking is a waste of time. And I was not born to straighten them out. I know why I was born into my family, and that is not my purpose there.
I am firmly in the closet at work. I work for a huge company that has all the "correct" policies regarding discrimination, but there is a lot of gossip and I just don't feel safe there. I go into customer's homes, and there is always enough to handle without introducing yet another topic of conversation by wearing my pentacle. I love my customers. There will be some that I can share with, I'm sure. I feel safer with my customers than with my co-workers, come to think of it.
In my neighborhood I am well-known as a witch. I keep an altar room that is more-or-less visible to the street, a witchy meditation garden in the back yard, and I go all-out for the kids on Halloween. Plus my little coven often meets here, and what we lack in numbers we make up for in rhythmic intensity. Anyone who goes by my door at any time of the year should be able to feel it and know, "A Powerful Witch lives here. Come in and be healed."
| I Wont Presume To Force My Thoughts On Other People. Heck, Thats... ||Aug 28th. at 1:35:45 am EDT|
|Vivica Windswept (Keaau, Hawaii US) ||Age: 16 - Email |
I wont presume to force my thoughts on other people. Heck, thats a main part of what i believe and preach about. Circumstances are different for everyone. Myself personally, in or out of the broom closet? My parents and my friends know. My extended family does not. I do not believe they could handle it or respect my choice in it. Someday they will definately know, when Im older and they think of me as an adult not as some teenager going through a phase. Telling my family was rough but it was slightly buffered because my father was Hindu and automatically supported me. I did have some sly coments from my mom though. I had some wiccan friends already, so that was ok. Sorta. Around the time i made the dicision on wicca, i went to a christian camp. Me and another close friend had agreed to go with our christian friend. That was hard. Torture. That strengthned the bond between my friend Athena and I but distanced ourselfs more from or christian friend. I also discovered Athena was wiccan. We cried alot that summer. Coming out of that closet is hard. I dont care what anybody says. Some say they have had a great time coming out but I havent met any. I also think its a learning experience every witch should go through. You come out stronger and with more of a passion for what you believe in. But, then again, circumstances are different for everyone. So despite if your in our out of that cramped closet, your decision is vailid and Blessed Be.
| I Guess It's Not The Matter Of Either Being In Or Out... ||Aug 28th. at 1:46:34 am EDT|
|Zenith Nyte Shadowwit (Subang Jaya, Malaysia) ||Age: 18 - Email |
I guess it's not the matter of either being in or out of your broomcloset, it rather should be is it necessary, or what are the consequences if you stay in or out? I think for a person like me, living in Malaysia, a rather Islamic country, I prefer to keep my broomcloset closed, why? Simply because it would not stir a controversy around the community.
I think it's a rather personal choice, either approach must be evaluated to suit your needs. Have anyone ever wonder why do we really need tocome out of the broomcloset, we're not an evangelical path, we hope as long as you keep to your religion, stay in your beautiful way, harm none, and we can mutually live side-by-side.
However, that is only an uthopian dream many witches would dream of, reality wise, is very very different. The truth with witchcraft is that it's a neutral path, many were left with the stigma of an evil wart-face lady riding on the broom. This of course, we know is not true, but seriously, have we ever thought of witches from other cultures? Indonesia is famous for witchcraft, and its malicious form is widely used, then how can we justify witchcraft, remember, by saying witchcraft is for the good, we're only defining ourselves, and if they cannot get a satisfied answer, they might harm us.
Therefore, if it's not necessary, I advise ourselves to stay in the broom closet, in that way, they can have their wild ideas about witchcraft and we can practice our own safe ways. Isn't it ideally what we really want?
| It Would Be Nice If Everyone Stood Up, Opened That Closet Door... ||Aug 28th. at 1:50:44 am EDT|
|Rondy (Baltimore, Maryland US) ||Age: 22 - Email |
It would be nice if everyone stood up, opened that closet door, and walked bravely into the sunlight. This is a very personal decision, I understand that completely. I do think it is important for us to be "out of the broom closet" so we are counted and have the ability to force Politicans to take us seriously and view us as American voters. Strange as it may sound, I myself am a very hardline Republican. I'm proud to tell my friends and those who walk the Paths that I am a Republican. I want to bring a Pagan voice to an old, tired Party that needs to open it's eyes and face reality. Do any of us want the Ten Commandments posted in PUBLIC schools? Hell no! What is the lesser of two evils in the White House, Gore or Bush? I had hopes for Bush until he made his ignorant comments about Paganism and Witchcraft, and I will not be voting for either candidate. We need more Pagans and Witches to step out and be counted, so we can enjoy what is supposed to be our Country as well. Perhaps we should start our own Political Party?
| I Somewhere In Between Inside Or Out. Cuase I Have One Friend... ||Aug 28th. at 2:03:41 am EDT|
|Artemis Moonshadow (kfar Saba - Israel, Israel) ||Age: 15 |
I somewhere in between inside or out. Cuase I have one friend who I'm completly out with and acturally understand what it means to be Pagan.
My parents have seen my Tarot card deck and BOS (they haven't read it) and my brother orders books from the Internet for me. So I guess I am technically out.
I've just never said "Hey guess what, I'm a Witch", which I doubt I ever will.
My brother's figured it out, and makes fun of me, he's Atheist, but he loves me so he just makes a few jokes here and there.
My dad, everytime I light insense askes me If I'm doing an exorsism. My mother I think is sure but she's never said anything so I guess she's okay with it.
The family that doesn't live at home don't know. And I don't think they should.
I think that as long as you're under age, like I am and many other new comers to the Craft, you should tell the people you live with, also they don't get a heart attack when that find you chanting an invocation to Hecate, or talking to the moon about your day.
I also think that as long as your honest with your family or friends then you're fine.
I've never lied about my beliefs, no one in my family has ever asked me how I see the Diety, if they did ask me I'd say I'm an Agnostic, which I am but I'm also animistic and polytheistic in my veiws.
Most of my family is Atheist, but we keep Jewish traditions for the sake of tradition, I respect that, I used to believe in that, and you have to do as your parents tell you untill you're of age and I'm digressing.
Any way, if you're a teen and in the Closet and want to come out, try leaving around a book or start wearing a SMALL Pentacle, it helps.
If you're an adult, I don't know what to tell you since I'm not in your postion yet, but good luck any way.
May the Gods Bless
| There's A Crucial Difference Between Just Being Out Of The Closet And... ||Aug 28th. at 2:18:22 am EDT|
|Lindsey M. Crossley-Freer (New York, New York US) ||Age: 19 - Email |
There's a crucial difference between just being out of the closet and open about your beliefs, and being part of an "in your face" group. Personally, I will tell people if they ask, and I wear a pentacle, but if they don't ask, I don't feel the need to tell them. I am strongly against proselytizing of any sort, whether it be by Pagans or any other group or person with a set of religious beliefs. If I felt compelled to tell others I wouldn't be secure in my beliefs. I think feeling like "I've gotta tell someone" is really a feeling of the need for validity in ones beliefs. If you can't find that within yourself yet, then join a community of like-minded people, online or off. That's what churches for all groups are for- for people to come together in religious worship and in doing so feel that their belief systems are valid and that they are part of a community.
| I Am Out Of The Closet With Close Friends And Family. And... ||Aug 28th. at 2:26:38 am EDT|
|Erica (Layton, Utah US) ||Age: 21 - Email |
I am out of the closet with close friends and family. And with co workers who care to ask or make comments that irk me. Just so they know where I am coming from. But it all depends on where you are from. I am in the military so I have the possibility of going places where the culture is not as open as here in the states. I wouldn't be "out of the broomcloset" say in Turkey for example or Saudi, here I am okay with it. As long as people stay away from my family and close friends (who are almost all pagan) then it is fine. I haven't had any backlash from it yet. But I am aware of the possibility, especially because I am now in Utah. The center of the Mormon religion. Who by the way have no separation of church and state.
| I Am New To The Pagan World, Having Been Brought Up As... ||Aug 28th. at 3:07:48 am EDT|
|malcolm fletcher (ipswich, Queensland AU) ||Age: 42 - Email |
i am new to the pagan world, having been brought up as a christian and following that upbringing unto my present age of 42.
the debate of wether to declare yourself a pagan or not is going on in the christian church too, the question being somewhat altered (insert christian instead of pagan). there is no easy answer.
have i declared that i feel more like a pagan than a christian to my family and friends, no, because i do not want to hurt them and am afraid of the backlash it may bring. should i. the easy answer is yes, as that is the honest thing to do. what has the result historically speaking, of this honesty. well i have learnt that you call it the burning times, a time that you would not like to see returned. the christian church, out of which i have recently came, is celebrating a new resurgence of fundementalism, is this a cause for concern.
i cannot say, a former friend of mine, however, and a high up in my church, suggest that the "old laws" returning witches should be brought back as they were responsible for the evils now abroad in society, and the crowd to whom he was speaking (around 2300) cheered. it really comes down o how comfortable you feel declaring that you are a pagan or whitch or druid or whatever, and leaving those that are not yet ready, or have no desire to announce themselves to themselves. by declaring that those that dont declare themselves are gaining a benefit from "your declaratio" makes you sound more like a church or political party than some-one walking a path.
thankyou for letting me state my opinion and if you want to send me an e-mail please do so.
| Merry Meet To All, I'm 18 And Have Been Practice For A... ||Aug 28th. at 4:23:07 am EDT|
|Alantis (Earth, Nevada US) ||Age: 18 - Email |
Merry meet to all,
I'm 18 and have been practice for a little over a year and have not tryed to wear a pentacal yet. as of late I've played with the ideal but have not found just the right one. Does this mean I'm in the closet? No, but life is far to short to be so serious so after about three months I told my fairly openminded hippy type mom and she told the rest of the family with her jokes and so it became known at my house but no one really cares so we don't speak of it much. I'm not sure how it got out at school, I don't remember telling anyone, but a friend of mine asked if I would join her coven and when I asked her how she knew that I was a witch she replyed that I just seemed the sort. Well Ok so all I can say is that basically everyone knows except the people at walmart, sorry but one day I listened while my co worker completely spat on that name of witches she being a good christian and all and I proably should have stood up to her and told her that her friends kid had a right to choose what ever religion she wanted but I didn't. And the funny thing is that she still tells me how bad witchcraft is and how her daughter, who I know use, to be one but she came to her senses and sometimes I feel like saying I'm a witch please don't belittle my friends before me but I don't want to get fired and she would get me fired. What do you think I should do? In out?
Blessed is the journey
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