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Are you out of the broom closet?

This post was written by Elysia
on May 2, 2011 | Comments (15)

Today, May 2, 2011, is the first ever International Pagan Coming Out Day. Organizers say that they are “working to achieve greater acceptance and equity for Pagans at home, at work, and in every community” by encouraging those who are able and ready to come out of the “broom closet” to do so. They feel that we can reduce stigma by putting a human face on Paganism, provide a voice for those Pagans who cannot yet come out, and basically open a dialog with the mainstream. I don’t know how much national media attention this day will garner since the news of Osama bin Laden’s killing was just announced last night, but it’s an interesting endeavor nonetheless and something that will at least get us Pagans entering into dialog with one another about this issue.

There are myriad opinions on whether we should come out or not, and even as to whether we should appropriate the GLBT language of “coming out” for something that is fundamentally different… and yet, not so different. Some make the argument that coming out as a witch is more dangerous to parents than coming out as GLBT, because of custody issues. Others say that it is hard to live in a society where the mainstream automatically assumes you are like them – whether that means straight or Christian. And that if we speak up when we can, we can avoid more senseless bullying in the future. Furthermore, it appears the reason it is “easier” to be GLBT these days than 20 years ago (in terms of employment, child custody, etc.) is precisely because they took the issue head-on and brought it out into the light for people to discuss. And yet they still face great challenges for equality in the US and elsewhere.

To get a deeper look at both sides of the Pagan coming out issue, I can point you to two very different blog posts. In the first, T. Thorn Coyle reminds us of Tempest Smith’s needless death by her own hand; she was just 12 when she hung herself in the face of relentless bullying at school because she was Wiccan. But Thorn makes much broader and more important points as well, encouraging us to look forward to the day when saying you’re Pagan is “no big deal” and people can just get over it and get on with their lives.

In the next, Serenity Athenina argues that coming out gradually is almost always the best policy, allowing people to get to know you and your beliefs a little at a time rather than surprising them with an in-your-face statement on a proscribed day. She believes making coming out into a “holiday” cheapens the experience somehow.

What about you? What are your thoughts on Pagan Coming Out Day? Are you more or less likely to come out because of this drive? What are your concerns about coming out if you haven’t? And if you have, what were the rewards and the difficulties?

Reader Comments

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#1 
Written By Cara Schulz
on May 2nd, 2011 @ 1:52 pm

Well, yes. Due to the news about the raid and death of Bin Laden some national interviews were cancelled.

However, I’ve been watching the conversation on our Pagan Coming Out Day facebook feed and it has been wonderful. People are having the important conversations with friends and family. And our religious community is offering their support. I think that is the other side to PCOD that Serenity is overlooking – it’s not only a day when people can choose to ‘come out’ to family and friends, it is a day for the rest of us to offer our support. There are groups performing strengthening rituals for members who are talking to family later in the day. Or they are going with them. It’s quite wonderful how people have stepped up to offer whatever help is needed.

Will one day change the world? Maybe not the entire world, but the actions you take on any given day can change your world. Pagan Coming Out Day is just a starting point, a way to marshal and direct our actions for greater effect.

Thank you for writing about this and presenting two very different viewpoints.

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#2 
Written By Jessica
on May 2nd, 2011 @ 2:48 pm

I’m currently in the process of coming out of the broom closet. :) I told my mom only last week, when she brought up the subject of magic. I’m glad to say she took it very well.
I believe that a pagan coming out day is a wonderful idea. I don’t think it cheapens the experience. Rather, that it’s a day to grab the attention of those who aren’t in a very positive way. GLBTs use their coming out day as a day to celebrate their lifestyle choice. I believe we pagans can use this day in a similar manner. For those who haven’t come out, use this day as a day to consider \what if i did?\ and, for those lucky enough to have been able to come out, use this day to be as witchy and proud and flamboyant as you desire, and help those who can’t by showing the world that it’s perfectly alright to be pagan.

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#3 
Written By Darlene
on May 2nd, 2011 @ 2:54 pm

I came out of my broom closet about 12 years ago, just before I left my home-town and moved across the country to start a new life. And looking back, I think my coming out was probably part of the reason I decided to move. After, I couldn’t have a single conversation that didn’t include some form of “have you out-grown it yet?” and my favorite aunt shunned me for over a year, refusing to attend family functions that she knew I would be at, refusing my phone-calls and not allowing her son contact with me… he was 20!
I still hear that same “have you out-grown it yet?” from time to time, but not every conversation anymore. They’re beginning to accept my religious/spiritual beliefs, if only to stop demanding that I “change back”.
As for friends in my new home… I don’t generally introduce myself as a pagan, I let the topic come up naturally and answer honestly when anyone asks about my penticle, or my books, or whatever they happen to notice. I do, however, tend to NOT wear my penticle when I’ve got to deal with my daughter’s doctor or other’s “in authority” because my religion is not recognized as valid in Canada, and it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to my kids.

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#4 
Written By Trenda
on May 2nd, 2011 @ 4:44 pm

I love the idea of an International Pagan Coming Out Day! I live in the southern U.S. and my choice to embrace the Path is definitely different. :-)I came out of the broom closet last August with most of my family and friends. Some still don’t know because I can’t help but worry about their reactions. I would love it if I could just be “me” with all my friends.

I wrote about my experience coming out of the broom closet here: http://tarotmama.net/journey/out-of-the-broom-closet-or-the-brave-little-turtle-peeks/

Wishing everyone the brightest of blessings,

Trenda

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#5 
Written By Penny Noneman
on May 2nd, 2011 @ 5:18 pm

I don’t want to be labeled “Pagan” any more than I want to be labeled “Christian”. I don’t know what my spirituality represents these days, or what direction it might yet take me in. But people think they know what the labels represent and make assumptions. Why let myself in for that?
Pagan Awareness Day would be much better than “Coming Out” day, I think that is up to each person to decide on their own. If an event could be organized on a certain day to help people understand, now that would be great.

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#6 
Written By Joanna
on May 2nd, 2011 @ 5:51 pm

I think that, just as with GLBTQ issues, what happens behind closed doors is our business. I don’t appreciate when Christians shove their religion in my face so I don’t feel inclined to do the same with my own spirituality. I like that my religion is secritive and mysterious and unique to my own personal beliefs, and I’m afraid that if Wiccan/Pagen beliefs become more mainstream they will become perverted by the greed and commercialism that has taken over Christianity. I know I am concerned that raising my children (should I have any) Pagen will cause some problems for them, and I think its definitely a convorsation that all Pagen parents need to have. But I think the backlash from making this an in your face issue is going to be counterproductive to the cause. America, especially in this “morally” charged time, just isn’t ready to accept that Witches are all among them.

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#7 
Written By Sharon
on May 2nd, 2011 @ 8:29 pm

I like the idea of a special day for Pagans, allthough with this month containing a Friday the 13th, that might have been a more appropriate day. I’m just saying. I will tell you that I cam out of the broom closet a few years ago, slowly and gently and at first only to my best friend of over 30 years. Perhaps I should say my former best friend. She was unable to accept the idea that I didn’t believe in the same “Christain values”(her words) that she did. No matter how many times I explained the Karmic Law, the Rule of Three or any other good deed attitude that most wiccans practice she became more hostile and way more religious around me until our friendship simply died from stress. I still am proud to be a Pagan and Wican but the reactions are varied. The most common being an ammused wonder. Maybe someday……

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#8 
Written By Soull
on May 3rd, 2011 @ 6:41 pm

Wow, an international coming out day for the Pagan community… that’s very interesting!

I’m glad that my family has always followed this path, so there was no really need to “come out”. I was always honest when asked, so the thought of hiding it never occurred to me when I was younger.

I hope others were able to use this day to their advantage!

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#9 
Written By LadyDawn
on May 4th, 2011 @ 6:23 pm

I have been out for the last 12 years now. I have a bumper sticker on my PU truck that states born again pagan. When you enter my door to my house is a sign saying the witch is in, and I have an alter set up in my living room for all to see. I have never hidden my religion and never plan to and I have raised my girls to believe that they can choose whatever religion they believe in that they feel comfotable with. To each their own.
Blessed Be
The Goddess Lady Dawn

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#10 
Written By Angie
on May 5th, 2011 @ 1:42 am

I am definitely out of the broom closet! I have been a Wiccan for eight years – since I was 13. I’ve always been very proud of my religion and I understand knowledge is power. I share what I can about Wicca to those interested – I never push my religion, as I feel that is something I shouldn’t do and I don’t like when people do to me.

I have started something called Wicca Wednesday on my blog – where I share information, helpful reads, etc. about Wicca and being a Witch to show people it isn’t a horrible, or scary religion. To show that we are real people, just like them. Hopefully doing my own little part in this magickal world will help. If even a little.

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#11 
Written By Snowy
on May 6th, 2011 @ 8:56 am

Mrhh, I stopped being secretive a long time ago. ‘Round here, folks are either A) Pagans or otherwise paranormally-aware, B) don’t believe it or think I’m joking, or C) don’t really care.

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#12 
Written By Phoenixx
on May 12th, 2011 @ 8:12 pm

I live in a state where you can be fired for a job without reason so proving you are fired based on your religion is pretty impossible but has happened to me so I am so far in the broom closet at work I have burrowed halfway through the wall. I am honest with family/friends when asked, and even showed my rather judgemental father my pentacle ring yesterday. It is horrible that anyone practising what I call a positive faith has to hide that because people might literally go medieval on them. If I had a life where I did not depend on anyone for anything I would not hide it at all because I do not believe it is anything to be ashamed of.

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#13 
Written By Jim Maher
on May 28th, 2011 @ 9:06 am

Dear Elysia
On this special day I bought another deck of tarot cards.
” Gina M Pace’s Pagan Tarot ” for a friend. I already have it & regularly use it for reading.
Which is distributed in Australia by Llewellyn.
I’m a bit older so I don’t feel like I had to “come out”
I never knew you had to go in, though I know in a couple of the metaphysical type stores where I do tarot readings & conduct tarot workshops, some of the younger than me people have a bit of trouble with their parents over this.A little hard, but you are what you is. Regards Jim.

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#14 
Written By Dave
on March 14th, 2012 @ 8:28 pm

Thank you to everyone that has responded to this post.

I’m in the porcess of putting together a workshop for the festival season on “Coming Out” as Pagans.

The focus of the workshop will be for leaders of the community/group/coven who may be able to assist in the transistion.

I am open to any suggestions or input from anyone who may come across this post.

Bright Blessings ,

In Her service

Rev. Dave Sassman

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#15 
Written By Dave
on March 14th, 2012 @ 8:32 pm

I forgot you can contact me through PEN the Pagan Educational Network, http://www.paganeducationalnetwork.org or indywiz@yahoo.com

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