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Question of the Week: 113

Pagan Problem Children: What Can We Do About Them?

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112. Elders: Who Are They and Do We Really Need Them? - [74]

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 Author:    Posted: Sep. 8, 2002   This Page Viewed: 26,826,279  

Vox Q Stats

Times Viewed: 32,767

Reponses: 181

Lurker/Post Ratio: 181 to 1

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 

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.

Coming Out Of The Broom Closet Is A Personal Choice To Be... Aug 29th. at 4:28:05 pm UTC

Hayden (Southport, Connecticut US) Age: 14 - Email

Coming out of the broom closet is a personal choice to be made by pagans if and when they are ready. I am out of the broom closet... more or less. Not everyone knows, not because I'm keeping it a secret, but because I don't believe in 'in your face paganism' if people I what my religion is I tell them, if not I don't bring it up (unless I am being instructed to do or say something that goes against my religion ex- 'One nation, under god' replaced by me w/ 'one nation, of all gods') I don't have a problem with wearing pagan symbols in public, but I don't wear em just to make a statement, I wear them when I feel I need to, for strength, wisdom, guidence, etc. I think I have found the perfect medium and I'm happy with it.


ps ofcourse if someone has something rather stupid to say about pagans then ofcourse I errr... make a point of letting them know how wrong they are...

I Always Felt "pagan" Even In High School. I Remember Reading "mists... Aug 29th. at 4:38:26 pm UTC

Theresa (Boynton Beach , Florida US) Age: 34

I always felt "pagan" even in High school. I remember reading "Mists of Avalon" and relating well to the priestesses even though I was brought up Catholic. Of course, back then I had no idea there was this sort of Pagan thing for real life. My family and husband (a Pagan too) knows I follow a "earth religion" but that is it. When they come to visit, I leave out the crystals, goddess incense holder, but hide the pagan type books. I don't thrown Pagan in their face (the in-laws) but they know if they bring out any sort of debate, i'm all for it-so they usually keep quiet! In public I look "normal" but do wear a "flower" type pentacle most of the time. If others can wear a cross, then I hardly think that wearing a pentacle is throwing my faith in people's faces. I think when others see a friendly person wearing a pentacle it changes their views on what a Pagan is like. So get out your pentacles and change the world for the better!!!

I have seen a couple people wearing 7 inches or more of pentacle and struting around arrogently as if saying "So...what are you going to do about it? Be nice or i'll put a spell on you!" DONT DO THAT!! It only makes other pagans look bad-our faith is new to many people-don't cause negitivity in the faith.

I Think, If I'd Really Been Given Time To Think About It... Aug 29th. at 5:24:26 pm UTC

Medea (Mankato, Minnesota US) Age: 24 - Email

I think, if I'd really been given time to think about it, I would have remained in the broom closet. However, circumstances and invasive family and friends hd me out and "labeled" as Wiccan before I was sure I wanted to take the path! That I am Wiccan now comes almost by chance, especially since I got a sampling of some of the hostility I might face if I chose Wicca as my spiritual path. Although the behavior I was subjected to was atrocious, I'm glad for it now because I know I made an informed decision by committing to Wicca, and I was well prepared for both the good and the bad of the Wiccan lifestyle.

At work, at home, at the university I attend, I am definitely out. I wear my pentacle in full view, I identify myself as an officer of the student pagan organization when handling organization business, and if someone asks me if I'm a witch, I answer yes and ask them why. Perhaps it's self-confidence, or perhaps it's because I prefer to dress in mainstream clothing most of the time, I rarely have had problems because of my religion. Other peers that live in my town have, including one friend who had an incident just yesterday having to dodge the evangelists that set themselves up on campus the first day of school! The same evangelists always look at me and say nothing. *shrug*

I don't consider myself "in your face." My religion does become a conversation topic, and I discuss it willingly, but I have so many interests that the topic doesn't come up that much with non-Pagan friends. I certainly feel no need to run around announcing myself; I am as I am. Just give me October 31 off like a good boss, and you won't have problems scheduling on Christmas.

I Feel That This Is Something That Is Really Up The Pagan... Aug 29th. at 6:14:36 pm UTC

Bo'Wind Art Do'bhran (Nappanee, Indiana US) Age: 36 - Email

I feel that this is something that is really up the Pagan/Witch if he or she wants to come out of the broom closet, depending if they can handle the questions that arise, and attention. I want people to know about us and to know the truth, about what a Pagan/Witch is. My own experiences have been positive, I dont get in any ones face and scream "Iam a witch!", but I have told my boss and co-workers, and that I dont like them using the word Witch lik its a swear word, and reasons why I take different holidays then they do. I don't tell anyone right away when I meet them, unless they come right out and ask what my religion is and when I say "Wiccan" they go "oh, yeah", "whats that" that usually when I say "Witch" they I get the funny looks and hand them the book by, Scott Cunninham- The truth about Witchcraft, or the one by Vivianne Crowley- the Principle of Wicca. Or I get the reply "I dont believe in Witches", Thats when I smile and walk away. I would have to say That coming out of the Broomcloset is something that all Pagans and Witches should do, because we need to let our co-workers, family, friends and community know what we are all about and what we arent, I would love to get more actively involved about letting others know what we do and why. Any one willing to help me get started on a bigger adventure please get in touch with me.

I Am In And Out Of The Broom Closet. If I Fugure... Aug 29th. at 8:42:32 pm UTC

Jasmine (Austin, Texas US) Age: 24 - Email

I am in and out of the broom closet. If I fugure the info would be upsetting I withhold it... Otherwise I am openly Pagan.

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