Coming out or staying in of the broom closet.
This topic came up over and over at the Pagan Spirit Gathering, a camping style festival of around 900 attendees held in Missouri this past week. As I was a PSG nOOb, I’m unsure if it was normal for this discussion to happen as often as it did, but it seemed to be at the forefront of peoples’ minds. Speakers touched on it, attendees brought it up during Q&A sessions, and it was bandied about in casual, private conversations. Even topics that you may think would have nothing to do with being public vs closeted quickly turned in that direction.
I did notice that those who are in the “come out, come out, where ever you are” camp are becoming more vocal about the need for the majority of us to be more public and open about our faiths. Not that they wish for us to go around saying “Goddess Bless” to everyone while wearing huge Pagan bling, but they do want us to be more unapologetic and matter of fact about our faith. To live our lives in the sunshine, not just by the light of the moon.
Some are losing patience with Pagans who keep their religion a secret. They understand that staying in the broom closet is necessary for those who could be physically harmed or have their children removed from them. But if it is just uncomfortable for you, they urge you to push past that discomfort. You may lose your job? Then fight for your rights in court or get a new job. Not easy to do, but religious discrimination in the workplace won’t end until it is forced to end. Your family and friends may no longer love you? If they walk away from you then they don’t love you right now. They love a lie and you can’t lose what you don’t have. I even heard a few Pagans at PSG make the argument that fellow Pagans who stay deeply closeted place the rest of us in greater danger since people equate being secretive with hiding something shameful or morally reprehensible. That closeted Pagans invite greater suspicion by their behavior.
I, too, can understand why a small minority of Pagans need to remain closeted. But I am joining the chorus of “Come out, come out, where ever you are.”
Perhaps, like the GLBT community, we need to organize a National Coming Out Day? An International Pagan Coming Out Day? Similar to to Pagan Pride events, it would be a wonderful opportunity to raise awareness of Paganism among the general populace and give a familiar face to the Pagan rights movement. Unlike Pagan Pride events, this event would be held on the same day in countries across the world, which could give it greater impact. A day to encourage, support and celebrate those who wish to take that next step, living openly and powerfully as Pagans. Also a day to acknowledge those Pagans who can’t yet be open about their faith. A day for all of us to honor the victories we have already won in our fight for equal treatment and to focus on those battles still left to fight.
Who would like to assist me in launching this project?