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Patti Wigington

Today is Int'l Pagan Coming Out Day

By May 2, 2013

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Someone once asked me when I had "come out" as a Pagan, and it was kind of a weird question, because for me it was never a matter of coming out -- I just am what I am, and it never occurred to me to be *in* the broom closet in the first place. This is, I suspect, due in no small part to my parents, who were always very up front about what they believed, and rarely concerned with what other people might think about those beliefs. It wasn't until I was much older, and had been a practicing Pagan for many years, that I realized not everyone was as fortunate as I have been.

Plenty of people feel that they just can't come out of the "broom closet," for any number of reasons. Often, it has to do with fear of what other people might think. Many times, it's because they're worried about their jobs, school, custody issues, or whatnot -- all of which are legitimate concerns. But as Paganism drifts a bit closer to the mainstream, we're starting to see more people stepping out to say that they are, in fact, Pagan. And the more that happens, the more normalized Paganism becomes. I recognize that I may be the only Pagan that some people know personally -- and I buy my groceries, drive my little Toyota, pay my bills, and take my kids to school just like those other people do.

Is coming out the right choice for everyone? Probably not. But if you're someone who's thinking about it, International Pagan Coming Out Day (IPCOD) is being held today, on May 2. IPCOD is "a not-for-profit organization working to achieve greater acceptance and equity for Pagans at home, at work, and in every community." It's kind of nice to see that there's a group out there which is about more than just Pagan pride -- IPCOD also wants to offer support to those who may be ready to come out, but just aren't sure what to expect.

Wondering how to decide if you should come out of the ol' broom closet or not? Read Should I Come Out? And then, if the answer is Yes (or even "I think maybe"), check out How to Come Out of the Broom Closet.

Read what some of our other readers have to say about When I Came Out of the Broom Closet.

So, if you're not out already, will this be the year for you?

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Comments
February 4, 2011 at 5:14 pm
(1) Deborah Devney says:

Pagans are the new Jews.

February 4, 2011 at 9:13 pm
(2) Becky says:

This is most of my family’s way of thinking (and mine, too): Follow whatever religion, or lack of, that works for you. We really don’t care, as long as you don’t go around killing, stealing, and forcing your beliefs onto others.
There are a couple people in my family who aren’t like that, but I hardly ever see them so it doesn’t bother me.

February 6, 2011 at 8:04 pm
(3) V says:

I would love to come out, but I am terrified my mom will force me to go to church (since I am still living under her roof, even though I’m 23). I am afraid that my family won’t take me seriously and simply ignore it, then get mad when they visit my apartment I hope to have with my fiance one day when there is an altar and pentacles everywhere. Does anyone have any advice? I really don’t want to keep hiding from my family.

Thank you to all for reading and blessed be!

February 8, 2011 at 4:06 am
(4) Becky says:

V, this is a wonderful site for advice. Hope it helps!

http://paganwiccan.about.com/od/contemporaryissues/a/Coming_Out.htm

February 8, 2011 at 12:25 pm
(5) Evie says:

I so wish being who I am was easier said than done. I have come out to most, but my husbands family are HARDCORE Catholics and Christians.. It is difficult to sit at family gatherings struggling with self discipline and continue to love them as they are. They even have hard core beliefs against the queer community. Which again, I have to bite my tongue. The difficult part is, their love will end for me (which I can handle) but also my husband, should they find out my beliefs. I stay in the closet for his sake with them. I am very lucky my mother loves and accepts me for who I am, and on May 2nd I intend to show me for who I am.. With exception to certain family-in-laws.

February 8, 2011 at 12:56 pm
(6) Darkenwulf says:

Where I work I don’t advertize my spiritual/magickal leanings and get along with practically everyone. Those who don’t know me will never know. I don’t see this as shirking an activism approach. The philosophy is simple: don’t dis mine and I will try not to dis yours. Faith in anything is what’s inside.

February 8, 2011 at 1:08 pm
(7) Evie says:

Like button necessary. =)

February 21, 2011 at 7:31 pm
(8) Black Kat says:

“I yam what I yam….” Popeye the Sailor

April 9, 2012 at 9:04 am
(9) David Dashifen Kees says:

Thanks for highlighting the site from one of the executive committee members :)

April 9, 2012 at 10:17 am
(10) Chanel says:

It’s a very hard decision.

However, staying in isn’t really fair to you. If they truly care for you, then they can accept you for who you are. You will probably distance yourself from some but you will also gain friends, whom you never realized were Pagan.

Christians are the worse to deal with because they have been mislead about us all their lives, and as for elders they aren’t going to change their views, because it’s to hard for them to go against what they have known their entire lives and been taught. It makes them uncomfortable.

I deal with it everyday. I am proud of myself for standing up for what I believe in and having to fight for my religious freedom.

I don’t discuss politics or religion at work. Co-workers know what I am and we do OK with it.

Base your coming out decision on what you are going to able to deal/live with.

April 9, 2012 at 10:38 am
(11) Amy says:

I’m not in, that’s for sure. I just do my thing and everyone I know knows I am who I am and no one is bothered too much by it. I’m more of an Earth mother, with a healthy dollop of the Fae and macabre so I think people don’t really notice much with all my books and burying apples and burning sage and such. My hubbys family is pretty religious, but still, I’m quietly out, I don’t parade things in peoples faces, but I do my thing and take my kids to school and whatnot. My oldest is also a Pagan, and we’ve discussed things there too. We are lucky to live in a very tolerant place, but even so I have recommended to him to be careful what he talks about, and around who. Because woe betide the ones who start up with him, his mother knows magic, and could quite possibly voodoo them…

April 9, 2012 at 1:28 pm
(12) jinx says:

my daughter is twelve and very interested in following the pagan path i encourage her to explore and learn all she can to learn about as many religions as possible. she went to church with a neighbor last month and was told when asked about her beleifs that she was going to hell, my daughter having faced this many times, without blinking an eye said “im sorry you feel that way” and walked away….sometimes standing behind your beleifs is alot harder than talking about it, i never wished my child to have to stand against intolerance and biggotry, but the more informed she is the better she can defend herself…. i guess what im saying is if you do intend to come out of the broom closet do so with knowledge behind you the more informed you are the better you can defend yourself from misunderstanding

April 9, 2012 at 8:04 pm
(13) Madeline says:

Deborah: funny, cause I’m ancestrally Jewish and a practicing pagan. Screwed twice when I mention Hanukah and Yule in the same month!

April 9, 2012 at 9:01 pm
(14) Amy Wax-Humphrey says:

I have always been fairly open in my Pagan beliefs. Unfortunately a custody battle which began in 1999 forced me back into the Broom Closet as it were. I made sure I left the door cracked open & began practicing under a variety of different auspices….Gypsy/New Age…anything that wasn’t directly called Witchcraft. Fortunately it was shortly after this time that a little book called Harry Potter came out….couldn’t have been a better gateway to getting my kids reading, talking & more importantly thinking!!! Screw you, family court! I win, my kids are more open minded than you ever intended them to be! This Witch shall not be denied her identity!!! Blessed Be! (And to others in similar circumstances….STAND YOUR GROUND brothers & sisters!)

April 10, 2012 at 8:33 am
(15) Caeldi says:

I am “out” to some of my family members (husband, sister) and kind of out with others (parents, in-laws). My parents and in-laws know that I’m “into” fairies, crystals, tarot, etc., but I have never said to them, “I am a witch.” My mom is actually kind of sweet about our not speaking about it openly. She occasionally sends me newspaper clippings about pagan events in the area (hand-fastings, drum circles in DC, etc.), but we don’t talk about it openly. Maybe this year I will bring my beliefs out into the open. Can’t be any worse than when my sister came out as gay, can it?!

I have worn pentacle earrings to work and some of my co-workers know what they represent. They’re fine with it. Other co-workers have no clue and just think they’re stars.

April 10, 2012 at 8:44 am
(16) sarile says:

I came out in 2009. I think it was decided by my employer to get rid of me because I told people I worked with I was “wiccan”.
My employer decided my coming out was not normal and found a way to be able to have me leave from my career position.
I have yet to prove my employer discriminated against me and violated my freedom of religion rights, but I’m working on it with an attorney.

April 10, 2012 at 10:22 am
(17) Slinkiee says:

I think what hurts the most is that a couple of family members who love me truly feel I am going to “hell”. That my soul is condemned because I do not believe what they believe. I won’t be going to “heaven”. Not only my soul but my grown children’s as well since I taught them how to think for themselves and enabled them to make a choice in what spiritual path they want to follow. These people love me and they honestly feel in their heart that I am doomed and my immediate family along with me. It hurts them they say.

Now I know the truth guys but I cannot help but feel that if I just could have kept it to myself maybe things would have been different. I didn’t broadcast it, rather they are on the infamous face book and put the pieces together and confronted me. Oh well. I asked that these family members not tell our 88 year old Mother who is a Christian. It would hurt her too much. So far so good. It sucks to be a minority but I know what I believe and I’m sticking to it. I’m not going to tell anyone at work though. I’m way too chicken for that.

April 10, 2012 at 10:39 am
(18) Meadowhawk says:

To V: True freedom requires the willingness to be judged by others. It’s impossible to avoid it anyway. No matter what you do or don’t do, there will be those who disapprove. The trick is to be aware that the judgment of others has far less to do with you and is a lot more about their limited beliefs and the judgments they have of themselves.

I don’t say this lightly. I know what it’s like to be where you are now. I suggest as part of your daily practice you ask the Deity or Guide of your choice: “How can I safely be more of who I am in the presence of others/family?” Then follow the awarenesses that come to you.

April 10, 2012 at 11:07 am
(19) Nsoshisett says:

I neither hide being Pagan, nor flaunt it. It just seems dishonest to deny my beliefs and I couldn’t live with myself if I lied about something as deep and sacred as that. Most people I’ve disclosed my Paganism to, accept it and the conversation continues…..if I ever were to meet up with nastiness, that’d be the nasty-deliverer’s problem, not mine.

My dogmatic Christian mother, who didn’t like me at all from the git-go, really turned against me when I quietly set up a low-key altar outside the house in a little grove of trees. I tried to calmly explain to her what this meant and what I was doing. But since she was already highly critical — I didn’t care so much when she simply wouldn’t even try to listen. I chalked it down to one more strike (in my mind) to Church-sponsored intolerance.

At least I was truthful, which is how she taught me to be. She was always quoting Shakespeare to us: “To thine own self be true, and it shall follow as the night the day; thou canst not then be false to any man [sic].” (Hamlet) And in fact, I suppose she, too, was being truthful about her own feelings….

April 10, 2012 at 11:29 am
(20) Brenda says:

I would be disowned by my family, strict Christians in every sense of the word. I guess they will never know just how respectful I was of their beliefs, it is sad for me to know they will never respect me the same way.

April 10, 2012 at 4:44 pm
(21) Liz D-M says:

I’m out everyday. I wear my pentacle. It’s made for some interesting conversation.

April 10, 2012 at 5:14 pm
(22) Lianne says:

I’ve always been out of the broom closet in the sense that I wouldn’t lie about it if someone asked, but I didn’t advertise it. Now, my immediate family knows, as do most of my friends, and it’s on my Facebook profile for anyone to see (though people apparently don’t look there). I haven’t told my extended family (though they have me on Facebook, so it’s not hidden from there), because some of them are very religious Christians and I don’t want to start any battles with family.

Also, my brother-in-law and his family are SUPER Christian and therefore it’s like an unspoken rule between my sister and I that I don’t mention it in front of him/them. Sometimes I just want to tell them all and then cackle, though… :P

April 10, 2012 at 7:45 pm
(23) Papa Raven says:

I myself have been out of the proverbial Closet for many years, I admit that from where I was born and raised in the deep Bible
thumping bible belt itself. It was hard especially from back in the 70′s I was a bit set back and cautious, But none the less I was proud to be who and what I was.
I do realize that many for one or another reason will have hesitations with coming out but I can only say to what an exilerating experiance it is to stand up with pride of your own being. I’ve never felt that it was at any time that my being to what I am was really ever a choice, with not really giving much on the thoughts of predestination, However I do contend that becoming a Pagan Priest was my Destiny and to not accept this destination for any reason I don’t think I’d ever been comfortable anywheres Else. And with this said My prayers and candles go out to any to which follows their own destiny.
Papa Raven

April 11, 2012 at 11:21 am
(24) Sandrix says:

with the exception of some very close friends, (they found out, there was no need to teld them) I haven’t told anyone about being a Pagan. but if someone reads some of the stuff on one of my blogs, it’s easy to find out. and I’ve lost some job opportunities because of that. On a job interview they said I had to hide my spiritual beliefs to work with them…

April 11, 2012 at 11:43 am
(25) Betsy says:

I have come out to almost everyone,except my brother,who is a super catholic,my brother-in-law,who is a decon of the catholic church here,knows,and is afraid to come to our house,which doesn’t bother me a bit.At work I am lucky,my bosses are hindu,so I can be myself there,I don’t flaunt it,I don’t hide either,if asked I say I’m pagan,and if someone has questions I answer the best I can.

y best friend is catholic,and she is open-minded,we have talked about her beliefs and mine,and she understands,which is great.
It’s too bad not everyone can be so open-minded like my friend.

April 11, 2012 at 12:14 pm
(26) Lianne says:

I’ve recently been thinking about this whole idea of Pagans using the “coming out of the closet” terminology, and whether that’s ok, and reading other people’s opinions about it… So at the risk of starting a flame war:

I think that using this terminology is appropriative. While Pagans are definitely discriminated against, straight Pagans do not experience anywhere near the type of oppression that LGBT* people do (at least not for being Pagan; obviously it’s more complex when there are intersections of race, etc.). So I don’t think it’s ok for us to be using their terminology. I understand that the Pagan community includes a lot of LGBT* people, and that many of them are fine with this terminology being used, but a lot of people aren’t ok with it, too.

Maybe we should have a “Pagan Awareness Day” or “Pagan Visibility Day” or something, which would serve the same purpose of making Paganism more visible to the mainstream and less mysterious, without appropriating the terminology of struggles many of us simply don’t face.

April 11, 2012 at 3:06 pm
(27) Ailora says:

My Mom lives with me and she is the product of our societal belief system. I most definitely do not hold that against her. She’s never really gone to church or even had a denomination, but she believes in the bible and holds to the philosophy that there is one male god.

Because I have a profound amount of love and respect for her, I don’t think I’d ever tell her that I’ve found Paganism and that it’s completely changed my life. I, like a lot of other Pagans I’ve read about, just felt a ‘click’ when I began researching Paganism. One aspect of staying ‘in’ that saddens me is how beautiful and fulfilling this path is and that I won’t get to share that beauty and wisdom with those I love most. Because of that I do sometimes contemplate coming out. But what would probably happen is that I wouldn’t have the words to appropriately explain how wonderful and kickass Paganism is and then I would have only alienated my loved ones or at the least created a chasm of misunderstanding.

I do sometimes feel that my Mom is watching me closely. So I think she at least suspects something. I’ll often go outside late at night and stand barefoot, grounding myself to Mother Earth, and stare up at the Moon. She’s also seen some of my books, even though I’m careful to buy only ones that don’t raise too much suspicion at a passing glance (like ‘Earth Path’). Even though I really want to get my hands on the ones like ‘Living Wicca’. So I suppose staying in the broom closet has also hindered my progress and learning and that really bothers me.

I wonder if I should seek out other Pagans and then I could go study with them. It would be a community where I can totally be myself and ask questions. I think I need this whether I stay in the broom closet or not! What’s really exasperating is that I’m becoming more daring and vocal to other people. But with my Mom, I don’t know, I just see her maybe pretending that it’s okay and then secretly worrying herself silly that I’m doomed for hell!

April 12, 2012 at 11:38 am
(28) Meadowhawk says:

I never really hid what I was doing or what I believed, but I didn’t (and still don’t) advertise. Still, when I first brought my beliefs into physicall actualization (alters, ritual, etc.), I was afraid of the judgment/disapproval/shunning I thought I would probably receive. When asked questions, I decided to avoid using labels such as Paganism, Wicca, Witch and whatnot and instead focused my answers on the essence of what I believed for example, “I believe in the Sacredness of Nature”. For me it was a way to express truthfully while offering my alternative view in bite-sized chunks my family could take in. It did seem to ease them into the idea more easily. I am not so careful with my words now. Recently a relative made a derogatory comment about Witches and I said “Uh, you do know I’m a Witch, right?”. I guess he didn’t, because I just got a mostly vacant, slightly confused look.

April 12, 2012 at 9:28 pm
(29) Laurie says:

Won’t be coming out this year. A patient in the office today told my co workers he”needed” to drink blood as a Wiccan. I also don’t want to associate myself with the costume wearers who fancy them selves lords and ladies.

April 13, 2012 at 10:45 am
(30) Witcy_Girl says:

I wear my penticle on a regular basis, and with pride. Most people don’t take much notice of it, whilst others ask me why I wear it. I’m out of the broom closet with my boyfriend’s family, as they are so non-judgemental, but I couldn’t do it to my aunt and uncle, who are devout Christians (my uncle is a vicar). I’m also in the closet with my foster family, as I don’t think it’s appropriate for the young children to think of me as a ‘witch’, as they don’t fully understand what the term actually means. I got a few negative reactions from my landlord, as he said that I couldn’t call myself a Scout if I’m not a Christian, and the landlady said that it was just a ‘thing’ I was going through. In a way, I regret comming out to them, but I couldn’t carry on living there whilst being trapped in the broom closet. Other than that, I’m out to most people :)

April 13, 2012 at 12:37 pm
(31) S0lvengel says:

I’m careful of what I say and to whom. Except for my dad those that matter to me and my life know I’m following a path of my own making. My hubby, daughters and most of my friends know, I don’t wear a pentacle but I do wear crescent earrings and am known for my Celtic cross on my own bead necklace. I’m trying to come up with money to have made a special amulet that has been in my dreams for over a year now. As for coming out of the broom closet, since my hubby works in the public as long as he’s working I will follow as my ancestors did and have my things around me that give me the strength to hide it in plain sight but follow my heart.

April 14, 2012 at 9:54 pm
(32) Tom says:

I partially came out fears ago. I lost a fwe catholic friends, and have since realized I am better off without them. The family is ok with it, since I really didn’t change the way I am. That and they are open minded for southerners. I am not so open at work due to the heavy christian influence in my area. My views have caused me soe problems a few times, but I like being able to pay the bills. Weigh what you want carefully and put aside your ego and fervor. Look at it from a disinterested viewpoint, and see where you really stand with it. Just a few thoughts from a Pagan Minister.

April 14, 2012 at 10:31 pm
(33) Belle Ravenbrooke says:

I don’t hide who I am. I am from an incredibly small town that is Christian based. If someone comes to my home and asks about how I decorate it, I tell them I am a Wiccan. I was raised by what I call a “doomsday” Christian and I never felt right. Being surrounded by nature and celebrating the earth, makes me comfortable in my own skin. I would encourage anyone to come out of the broom closet. Be who you are. The people that truly love you, will accept you for who you are and respect your religious freedom. The ones that will give you those forced phony smiles and they suddenly have somewhere important to be, were never your true friends. One more thing you have to realize. No matter what religion you choose, you have to ask yourself this. Are you going to be whatever religion for you, or for someone else? Many happy blessings ;)

April 16, 2012 at 1:13 pm
(34) Timothy says:

I’m out. I don’t care what people say. It’s my bloodlines, it’s my fate. I wear my pentacle with pride. I would never stray from my beliefs to benefit another. No one can change me. I am a Pagan and I am proud!

May 2, 2013 at 11:50 am
(35) gowl says:

It can be really difficult to ‘come out’ if you come from a conservative family. I was raised Episcopalian & while I never told anyone per se, my grandma (whom I live with) did threaten to throw me out for ‘devil worship’ when I tried to celebrate Beltane one year & an aunt of mine told a guy I was interested in that I ‘sacrificed babies’ (luckily he has a brain & knew it was BS & we’re married now :) . It can be so frustrating to be open about our Pagan beliefs but we don’t owe openness about it to anyone nor any apologies. I offer knowledge & truth about what I believe & why & try not to get too defensive. Remember, monotheists have been against Pagans since they came around & you can’t get angry at all of them!

May 2, 2013 at 1:10 pm
(36) Angie says:

One of the things I love so much about paganism is that it’s fundamental belief system is impossible to argue with. No-one, in any religious group, can argue that Earth, Air, Fire, Water and Spirit are the greatest powers! There are a lot of relations between paganism and other faiths, of course because paganism is one of the very oldest ones. I would suggest to everyone who is nervous about “coming out” to just find the similarities between your faith and the other faiths and highlight them. Be true to yourself, there is nothing about Paganism that is bad or needs to be hidden. Blessed be!!

May 2, 2013 at 2:32 pm
(37) Robin says:

I guess i the Odd one..I left my old religion a long time ago.. and it is funny the did not pay me much attention then ..Now All of a sudden I the center of Gossip and overall silliness.. yes I get invertenly preached to and i get I rolls..(am goth too) I come from a family that is a mixture of everything so That help me just fine ..as for the Butt heads ( and I used to be their doormat) my fault till I grew the hell up. I just don’t care. those who respect me get attention ..the other yeesh! And Also I went to the same church with them and they gave me hell for following the teaches..go figure? huh.

May 2, 2013 at 2:43 pm
(38) bill says:

I’m completely confused by this entire article and most of the comments…

coming out? seriously? Like we’re homosexuals…? As if our beliefs are on par with sodomy? Nothing against those who wish to engage in those types of activities, but this is total nonsense!

Wear your pentacle/charms etc, practice your religion, and leave it at that.

I never engage in conversation that involves politics or religion. If the topic of religion comes up, I simply say that I do not subscribe to that faith, and I have my own beliefs. If they press the issue, I say I do not wish to discuss it, and change the subject. 99.9% of the time, discussing it leads to a heated argument.

I don’t see myself as “in the broom closet” either. It’s just something that is personal to me and I do not wish to discuss it with others (unless it’s with other likeminded individuals) or open myself to ridicule of so many self righteous christians who are so quick to “cast stones” as they would say, and proclaim their fairy tale, i mean religion is “correct”.

Maybe I’m wrong here, but why create an unnecessary situation with others based on something that is purely subjective as there is no right or wrong answer? It’s like arguing over which tastes better, coke or pepsi.

continued…

May 2, 2013 at 2:43 pm
(39) bill says:

continued…

By “coming out” you’re drawing attention to yourself to give everyone an answer to a question they didn’t ask, and opening yourself up to ridicule and prejudice, or an unnecessary awkwardness amongst others. What’s to gain by doing so? I see no benefit, nothing that would make my life easier by doing so.

If someone says something that you interpret as anti-pagan or derogatory, stop and realize… words are just sounds that people make with their mouths. There’s no need to ever be offended by anything anyone says.

Whatever happened to the old adage “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”? People today are way too sensitive about everything.

At the end of the day, anyone’s opinions of you, your pagan beliefs, or paganism itself, should have no impact on your life whatsoever…. so don’t let it.

I’ll get off my soapbox now, and go finish working on my garden in celebration of Beltane.

May 2, 2013 at 3:31 pm
(40) Aslinn McIntyre says:

I am Christian and a witch and I support my brother and sister Pagans to be open and proud of who they are. I learned so much from very talented Pagans and I love them dearly and appreciate all the support they have given me…Blessed Be

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