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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 Believe This Should Be A Individual Choice As To Whether To... ||Aug 29th. at 10:58:04 am UTC|
|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 UTC|
|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 UTC|
|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 UTC|
|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 UTC|
|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.
| Out Of What Broom Closet???? Oh, That Was A *door* I Hit... ||Aug 29th. at 12:07:28 pm UTC|
|Silver MayKitten (Springfield, Missouri US) ||Age: 55 - Email |
OUT OF WHAT BROOM CLOSET???? Oh, that was a *DOOR* I hit? Oh well I'll put it back on its hinges someday.
I was never in the broom closet from the day I started thinking about become a Wiccan, I freely discussed the idea with my friends and co-workers and recieved a warm and open display of open minded respect for my starting on the treck of discovery and learning. They knew I was having a minor set of problems related to my mom having a stroke, and they also knew of the accompanying problems I was having with my (Christian Orthodox) church supporting me (or even paying any attention to me and mom.)
I had lived two doors down from Greenleaf Coven for twelve years and knew several of the witches, and I had learned over those years that my beliefs has changed and my ideas of a church's responsibility to their members and the community at large was way different than my old religion, more along the lines of my Wiccan friends.
When I announced my beginning the decision process my friends and co-workers (mostly computer geeks like me, ) gathered around me and all but one fundie told me "Go for it!" Many of my tool and most of the books I got to study were gifts from the people I expected the most friction from.
I never had any reason to even _think_ of hiding in the broom closet; i was out before I even knew it was there. I wear my penticle on the outside of my shirt and make no pretense of being anything other than a witch. If you are not proud of what you are doing, you shouldn't be doing it!
| I Am Out... But In Moderation, Just As I Try To Be... ||Aug 29th. at 12:51:52 pm UTC|
|SilverCat (Boston, Massachusetts US) ||Age: 25 - Email |
I am out... but in moderation, just as I try to be with everything in my life. I'm fortunate to live in a big city where people can pretty much do what they want and express themselves however they wish. But just as I hate public displays of affection that really should be done in private, and or be heckled about being "saved, " I have no wish to make others uncomfortable.
I just do my thing. I don't dress the gypsy-ish new-age Pagan style, but I always have my pentacle on. Those who know what it is often ask... and very rarely anymore in a nasty tone.
Being out of the broom closet is, in my opinion, important. But it's how you conduct yourself that will make the difference.
| I Am Personally "out" Of The Broomcloset But I Must Say You... ||Aug 29th. at 1:44:36 pm UTC|
|NightTiger (Syracuse, New York US) ||Age: 16 - Email |
I am personally "out" of the broomcloset but I must say you have to find the balance of being in and out. Most people are unwilling even today to accept exactly what we are and why. So who do you tell? Personally i only discuss it with those who I feel will listen. Otherwise I just say that it's a religion and it's the closest thing to my own beliefs. Pagans have always been gerenarlly happy with ourselves that we don't throw our beliefs on anyone and people come to us. Not us going and telling them they should convert. Well eventually someone will find out, at least you are able to control who you wish to tell and discuss it with. People who are honestly interested are just curious, and tend to be the best place to start. I like to be able to stand up for myself and say exactly what I believe and why. Others though may not feel they are up to that challenge they will face. It's a personal decision that really no one but yourself can make. The fact is things like Pell City do happen, maybe not on that big of a scale, but there is little battles that we Pagans face everyday. As always, it's the leaders who do take most of the blunt of the hardships, but that's always been the way it is. So I feel what I do by standing out as a Pagan is represent all of us in my area. I would hope I'm not the only one, but at the same time I realize that not everyone is up to that. So blessed be to EVERYONE in the world. And do notice that in Wren's Nest there is a story that a large number of religious leaders were recieved in the UN to pray for World Peace. Which should be everyone's goal. If it was this wouldn't even be a problem.
| I Am Both, If That's Possible Lol. I Am Out As A... ||Aug 29th. at 2:57:53 pm UTC|
|Jana Marsella (Duluth, Minnesota US) ||Age: 29 |
I am both, if that's possible LOL. I am out as a *Pagan* to my parents, who are still praying for me everyday (so they tell me), as a *Wiccan* and a *witch* to my husband and my closest Christian/Catholic friends (and of course to those I love in the Pagan/Wiccan/Witchcraft community.) I am *not* out at work, because I work in education, where the majority of people, tho they vote Democratic, are among the most *conservative* bunch of folks you would ever want to know. I have bumper stickers on my car that are rather ambiguous--"Love Is the Law, " etc.
I have experienced *some* backlash, but I don't waste my time with negative energies toward these people, because I once walked in their shoes. From the ages of fourteen to eighteen, I was a Fundamentalist Christian, so I understand now how our ways look so strange and frightening to them. Instead, I have compassion for their limitations. I often say that I began life as a Pagan and a Wiccan/witch, and that it took fourteen years to brainwash me into Fundamenalism. It took another fifteen (which included some *very* profound signs in my life) to bring me back to where I started from. Sometimes it seems to me that I was like a profound homophobic--I was screaming so loudly against Pagan/Wiccan/witch ways because I was denying it in myself.
Speaking of which, I compare it in many ways to being in *any* kind of closet. In my particular field, I have come across many gay and lesbian people, and tho I haven't come out of my own closet, and admire these folks for doing so. The similarities are striking to me--people respond in much the same way. The same kind of people who try to "fix" homosexuals and make them "straight" are the same types who try to "save" our kind, thinking that if they just give us "the good news, " we'll come around to their way of thinking. Well, sorry folks. I tried your way for the better part of thirty years, and it didn't speak to me. I always try to tell people that there's nothing *wrong* with their way, it just didn't work for me. It doesn't mean there's anything inherently *wrong* with me, either, just as there isn't anything inherently wrong with homosexuals.
One of my favorite lines from poetry is Robert Frost's "Good fences make good neighbors." I have neighbors, living where I live, have deep-rooted prejudices against African Americans and Native Americans. It's their opinion and they have a right to it, even if I feel it's wrong. Just as I have a right to study and practice my religion, even if they feel it's wrong. I'm not "flamingly" out to my neighbors, but they know that there's something "different" about me. However, they respect me because I have been a good neighbor to them. I've helped out when possible and necessary. My husband and I are two of the few who actually stop to say "hi!" to anybody on our block, and we are respectful of others. So, tho you never can tell (I've seen some of the nicest people get ice in their veins when they hear the word Pagan), I pretty much doubt my neighbors would have a problem with my religion. As for others, well, it's one way to find out who your real friends are, *that's* for sure!!!
In short: should you come out? Up to you. As with anything else in life, do what makes you comfortable. For me, that's being out to those whom I love and trust (whether they accept it or not), but not being completely flamboyant about it. I have a cousin who came out as gay a few years back. Until he came out, it was obvious to many of us in the family that he was gay, but still acted like a "normal" person (whatever that means!) After he came out of the closet, he got very "swishy." Which to me was the turn-off. Why does a person have to change their whole personality to be "out?" Granted, being partially out of the broom closet, I can somewhat understand this (as he is younger than me)--I have had the courage to be more myself (such as bringing my *huge* collection of astrology books out and growing number of Pagan/Wiccan/Witchcraft books from my ritual room in the basement to the living room upstairs), but I don't think it should be a *total* overhaul of who you are. Rather, it should be a showing of who you really have been. Granted, sometimes it's hard to tell the difference. But, I repeat: do what makes you comfortable. Three years ago, I became vegan. I was pretty hush hush about that (even moreso than my religion) because, believe it or not, those status quo people even flip about not using animal products. *Sigh* Now I'm a "Pagan Vegan (pronounced Pa-gen Va-gen." I find that so funny!
Anyhoo, I'm rambling. Do what feels best for you. If that means staying in the broom closet until you think you can handle it, go ahead. If you are a "warrior" type and can come out fully for all of us, *bless you!* If you're "middle of the road" like me, well, we can all hang tight until the Age of Reason takes on full speed and religious discrimination is no more (and that goes for everyone. Rememeber the Christian girl who got shot in Columbine H.S. last year for saying that she believed in God? I don't condone *that* kind of s*** either.) Don't know if that'll happen in this incarnation or not, but I pray to the Goddess and the God that it does.
Many blessings and Much love!!!
| I Learned About Wicca When I Was 15 Years Old, And Had... ||Aug 29th. at 3:19:18 pm UTC|
|Jessica (Denver, Colorado US) ||Age: 18 - Email |
I learned about Wicca when I was 15 years old, and had just started my sophomor year in High School. I was in a school play with a girl that would soon become my best friend. Soon I had to confront myself with the choice of whether I wanted to continue studying Wicca and open myself to anger and fear in both my family and at school, or to just forget it. But I couldn't forget it. I stayed firmly in the dark among the brooms at home, peeking out once in a while to help my younger sister. At school I was a little more open; I wore my tiny pentacle on the inside, and later outside, of my clothes. My friends are very open to ideas and the accept and embrace for the most part the differences that people had. I had no trouble with them. When people asked me about my necklace or what I believed, I admit sometimes I was a little rude because I was scared of being hurt in some way by them. In small towns, the walls have ears and lips. Now though, I live in Denver with my dad, who is supportive of what I believe and do. I have been blessed for my patience by the Lord and Lady, and I thank them daily for the opputunities that I now have.
| As A Pagan Disk Jockey Doing A Pagan Radio Show, I Am... ||Aug 29th. at 3:30:52 pm UTC|
|Nadine Murphy (Lincoln, Nebraska US) ||Age: 53 - Email |
As a Pagan Disk Jockey doing a pagan radio show, I am definately out. I am out at work. I am never, however, an 'in your face' type of person.
I have had many conversations with many people. I explain my beliefs and also that not all pagans share them; That there are as man different types of pagan as there are christian.
I also try to do the same thing on my radio show. We do a news section as part of the show (as well as a bad joke section). To let listeners know what is happening in the wider community.
No, not all of my listeners are pagan. Several have called and not been aware that it is a pagan show. They like the music, they think the stories are about religious freedoms being ignored.(they are). They think I am to much of a liberal(lol! I Am). But no one has ever complained about my being pagan. I feel very lucky, for I have not had to deal with the worst people can do to each other.
But, here, we have had our difficulties. and misunderstandings. Mostly there has been good information giver out and people have listened with somewhat open minds.
I keep up with the goings on at the Witche's Voice so I know that not everyone is as lucky in their communities. Therefore, 'in or out' is an intensely personal choise, and the only one who can make it is the person who lives it.
| While I Am Out Of The Broomcloset For The Most Part, Some... ||Aug 29th. at 3:59:32 pm UTC|
|Fiona (Hampton Roads, Virginia US) ||Age: 27 - Email |
While I am out of the broomcloset for the most part, some members of my family are kept in the dark. For instance, my mate's grandmother (a southern baptist) will not be told, by my mate's request. But by and large, if you ask me then I will tell you without skirting the issue. I don't "flaunt it" or anything else; I am a Witch but most people don't know by looking at me. That's fine with me. As far as others coming out of the closet, I feel it's their choice.
"...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..." I'm not fighting for these rights for just myself, but for all of us. I want *all* of us to benifit from a more open society.
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