It has been 2 years since I came out of the “broom closet” on International Pagan Coming Out Day.
Many things have remained the same- I’m still a stay/work at home mom. I’m still married to my husband of now 12 years. I still have love and support from family and friends.
So what’s different? I’ve been elected as a co-leader of Pagans in Touch. I’ve also stepped up and become one of the local coordinators of Central Illinois Pagan Pride Day. I’ve written & lead a few public rituals now. I’ve organized a few events. My relationship with my deities has evolved. I’m more confident in myself and more likely to speak up for myself. I’m less likely to take any bullshit.
Do I ever see discrimination or persecution because of my faith? Nothing that is out-right horrible or dangerous. I’ve received an email asking from a private business that we not put flyers in a public area for our events, because it was in an area that their customers walked through, even though they allowed flyers for other events. I’ve been completely ignored when discussing something I’m proud of that just happens to be Pagan-related by a friend or two. But that’s nothing compared to others I know. Pagans that have had shots fired at their house because of their religion. Pagans that have been fired from their job, simply for having a different faith than their boss. No, it’s not legal- that doesn’t stop it from happening.
I hear stories of parents that can’t accept their adult child’s faith- stating “their still finding themselves.” Stories of people feeling the need to hide a deity statue or create secret altars from spouses. People that have to create alternate identities, just so they can talk to others openly about their faith without fearing judgment from their loved ones. I’ve considered doing the same at one point.
Why do people feel threatened by others, just because they worship a deity different from them? Why do people feel the need to force their deity or their beliefs on others? We’re not asking for the world here, just to have the same rights as everyone else. To be able to talk about our last full moon ritual, just the same as someone might discuss going to church last Sunday at the water cooler. “Wow- you had a really moving service on Sunday? That’s great, I felt the same way during my last Esbat!”
People should not have to fear for their safety, or their job stability just because of their religion. Yes, there are laws on the books to prevent this from happening, but to actually prove that this is the cause is incredibly difficult. It has to start on a more personal level – showing the people around you that Pagans aren’t scary people, which is why Pagan Coming Out Day is important. It requires community outreach and education, which is why Pagan Pride Days are so important. If you can come out safely or help out at Pride Days, please do so. Every little bit makes a difference.
PS. Would you like to read my original coming out post? You can find it HERE.