Those in the pagan community have a way of explaining to others if we are open with our beliefs as pagans to non-pagans such as family, friends, or work. We call it being “out of the broom closet”. This is not something a person who participates in a mainstream religion would ever have to deal with these days because more often than not their religion is considered more socially acceptable.
Now some might argue that we live in a free society and therefore we shouldn’t have to hide who we are and what we believe from others. They’re right! We shouldn’t have to, but for many of us, we do.
In case you missed it, I’m very out of the broom closet. I’m so out of the broom closet that my work with CoG and Meetup are listed on my resumes. Truth is I couldn’t hide it after all the media attention. A quick Google lookup and you’ll have page after page about me and my association with Wicca and paganism. However, I know far more pagans that have to hide or be less than obvious about their spiritual beliefs to avoid problems with discrimination or outright disapproval that could lead to conflict or altercations.
Recently Chris and I attended his company’s Christmas party. It was a lovely dinner event. We sat with a couple of people from his department and their significant others. Next to me was a really sweet woman who was married to Chris’ co-worker. She was a delight to chat with! Chris had been introducing me as his fianceé and so she wanted to hear how we met.
I was stymied at first. Normally I would have just said that we met through my Pagan Meetup group, however, these folks work with him and given that Chris is a supervisor and rarely divulges personal information I thought better of it. It dawned on me we hadn’t yet discussed how we might handle this information being distributed to people he knows at work. I felt a little stupid because I hesitated on explaining it. I looked at Chris for a hint regarding what he wanted and I got nothing from him. He totally left me hanging! So I decided to err on the conservative side. I explained I run these social networking groups and that his cousin brought him along. I completely bypassed the topic and successfully evaded outing Chris at work.
Haha! One point for me!
Clearly, he won’t be able to remain religiously anonymous for much longer since some of his co-workers are being invited to the wedding.
At the monthly Meetup events I host we do introductions where we ask people to share their name and Meetup screen name, because some times that’s different. Well, last night at Pagan Meetup a member introduced themselves and gave what they thought was their screen name, and it might very well be their screen name on another website, however, that was not the case with their Meetup account. I explained that their full name was their current screen name. Later they explained, because they’d been on hiatus for a while, they had forgotten their screen name was their full name and intended to change that immediately because they didn’t want their name getting pulled up on search engine indexes. Basically, they don’t want anyone from their work life to know their spiritual path because it could jeopardize their career.
I know of plenty of situations where people have lost their job, been ostracized by their friends and family, threatened to have their children removed from their custody, pushed out of their homes, or had physical threats or attacks upon them because others disapproved of their pagan beliefs.
It’s very possible that my being out of the broom closet could have cost me potential work, but I feel that I can’t worry too much about that. Besides, if that is true, shame on them for passing me up simply because they don’t like my religion. It reminds me of a quote,
“It’s better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you’re not.” Marilyn Monroe
I realize that not everyone is in a position where they can be so cavalier about it. But isn’t it sad that we have to hide such a big part of our lives from the world around us because we fear loosing family, friends, jobs, our homes, and children? Seems a bit counter to the America the Free and all that Freedom of Religion that we’ve been raised to believe in, doesn’t it?
The Sweet Hollywaiian are from in Osaka, Japan and play 1920s~1930s string band music. They have a passion of Hawaiian, Swing, Ragtime, Blues, Calypso and Italian music.
I found them back in 2006 and fell in love! I didn’t think I’d ever have the good fortune to see them perform live as much of their performances on their schedule were in and around Japan. However, as lucked would have it they did come to Los Angeles to perform and I was able to see them in 2007. They played at a small music store. After years of covering large concerts for the magazine I once worked for I’m now extremely fond of the small intimate settings for music shows.
Their show was a true delight! They’re wonderfully entertaining, and very talented musicians. I felt very honored to meet them.
I hope you enjoy!
Sweet Hollywaiians – 12th Street Rag