Today, May 2nd, is International Pagan Coming Out Day. It was created “to achieve greater acceptance and equity for Pagans at home, at work, and in every community.” On this day, Pagans make the commitment to come out to one person, be that person friend, family, co-worker, whatever. I can’t fully participate, because there is literally no one in my life who isn’t aware that I am Pagan. Even people who are really just acquaintances know about my religion. I did made it a point to wear a pentacle today. I didn’t get any questions, not sure if it was even noticed.
Check out the International Pagan Coming Out Day website and Jason Pitzl-Waters covering of it on the Wild Hunt blog. I’m not sure what I could say that wouldn’t just be a repeat of what has already been said.
I know that many people are also sharing their coming out stories. Sadly, my original coming out story is not very encouraging. I was maybe fourteen, and like many Pagans my journey began with Wicca. I told someone I considered a close friend, and she betrayed me and spread it all around the school. The next two years were hell. I was ostracized. When I walked into a classroom, people chanted “Burn the witch! Burn the witch!” I was physically attacked a few times, people would throw things at me from cars as I walked home, a few times someone followed to my JOB to try to convert me. I was lucky in that my father, who had a background in Buddhism, came around rather quickly. But school was miserable enough that I soon made the decision to return to homeschooling (I was homeschooled most of my life, and only attended 7th, 8th and 9th grades of public school).
My later experiences of coming out at work had much happier endings. Coming out meant I could get some of my sacred days off of work, and in some cases deepened my friendships with co-workers. Sure, there were one or two people who were convinced that I was a devil worshiper, but for the most part it was a positive experience. It helps when your boss is on your side, then the more hardliners are less likely to hassle you. High school is evil. Some people never grow up and stay in that adolescent mentality all their lives, but most, in my experience, do grow up and become more mature. I don’t know how I could live my life in the closet. My religion is too big a part of my life to keep it secret. I don’t shove it in people’s faces, but the fact is most of my interests are at least partially attached to my religion and to ancient Greece. My Gods are a huge, huge part of my life. Coming out was difficult at first, and I remain a little cautious at times because of my initial experiences at such a young age. But all in all I am glad that I am so open about who I am. I can’t be something I’m not, and one reason that I am so open is so that I can educate others. Most people don’t know we exist. It’s time that we come out into the light.