May 2nd is International Pagan Coming Out Day, a day when all Pagans should band together and joyously shout to the world… “I’m Pagan and Proud!!!” and dare anyone to take issue with it. Ok, not really, however it is an annual “event” that strives to “achieve greater acceptance and equity for Pagans at home, at work, and in every community.”
As mentioned directly on their website, “coming out to someone is a decision only you can make and it’s a decision best made when you are ready to do so”, and there is an absolute truth to that. While it would be very nice if we could all be open about our religious/spiritual choices or practices, in actuality it’s something that we need to think long and hard about. On the one hand we shouldn’t have to hide who we are, on the other, it’s worth noting that there are still plenty of countries that will kill Witches almost on sight, and even in countries where there are laws against that sort of thing, many have very poor opinions of Pagans, or really anyone who has a different religion than what is considered mainstream.
So when considering “coming out of the broom closet” we need to first decide if the benefits of doing so, outweigh any potential negative consequences. Then given that there will likely be at least a few negative consequences - are they manageable, or will having to put up with them make life miserable enough, that staying silent is the wiser course. Some things to think about…
- First and foremost how will your friends and family react? If you are still living at home, or having to depend on your family for support, this can be a major factor in keeping one’s path to oneself, especially if you think they won’t take it well, and might kick you out. Are you willing to put up with potentially losing friends and/or alienating your family if they don’t understand where you are coming from? Are you willing to gather up relevant information on your path, and have calm, rational (can’t stress those two words enough) discussions, in an attempts to inform others on what your path is about?
- How will your employer react? Unless you plan on wearing overt symbols of your faith/practices to work everyday, this may not be a huge issue, but it’s still something to consider. Job security isn’t the best these days, so if there is any possibility that being out will cause you trouble at work, it might be better not to say anything at all. This would still apply if you are in school as well - though they can’t fire you, teachers (and fellow students) can make things difficult for you if they so choose. So it’s something to keep in mind.
- How will your local neighborhood/community react? If you live in a large city, again this might not be a big deal, but if you are in a smaller town, or a close-knit neighborhood, then outing yourself as a Pagan, could have an impact.
- For those who are married or in a committed relationship - how will your significant other react? I have this separately, even though it’s technically lumped into friends/family, but it’s a really big one, so it deserves it’s own consideration. If you are in a relationship with someone (or married to them), and they don’t know that you are Pagan, be absolutely sure that they will be ok with it, before saying anything to them. Keep in mind that telling them, can literally be the end-game to your relationship. Things may eventually work out, but you need to be willing to weather the bumpy ride, to get through it, if they are not overly thrilled about your choices.
I know at this point it may seem like I’m against Pagans coming out, and in reality that isn’t true, as I dream of the day that we can all live - if not harmoniously, then at least in perfect apathy to each other’s religious/spiritual choices. However as we are not yet at that point, “coming out” can be a monumental, life changing event, and I don’t think that mere words can adequately convey the seriousness of the situation. I’d like to think that in this day and age, most people are cool with it, but if I’ve learned anything out of recent “current events” in the US, it’s that we really aren’t as “cool” as we’d like to think we are, if anything we’ve started to backslide quite a bit.
So while I encourage those Pagans who can, to “come out” on May 2nd, I definitely urge everyone to think carefully before jumping right out. Not that we shouldn’t all be proud to be Pagan, but ultimately it’s a question of… is this the right decision for me at this time? If it is… go for it!! If it isn’t, then there is nothing wrong with keeping it to yourself. You’ll know when the timing is right!!
If you are out, or are planning to come out on the 2nd… feel free to comment and share your story with us. We’d love to hear from you!!
For more information on IPCOD, you can also check out their FB page.