*This post is part of a 3-post series, in which the first post is the argument for coming out of the broomcloset, the second post is the argument against, and the third post will be the summary of the two sides and my own opinions.
**NOTE: Posts 1 and 2 are not necessarily my own opinions. Since I lack another person to debate with, I am playing advocate for both the arguments. My opinions will be held in post #3.
Coming out of the broomcloset is a tough choice. There are a lot of things to think about before making this kind of life-altering decision. Your choice is going to affect not only you, but your family, your friends, even potentially your coworkers. Coming out may seem like a great idea, but there are a number of negatives that should be considered first:
- Dealing with prejudice and discrimination. Prejudice and stereotypes and discrimination all still exist, even though the current age is supposed to be “modern” and “civilized.” Coming out means you might have to deal with these things, especially if you live in an area that is less than tolerant of diverse religious ideas. Handling cases of hate and misunderstanding can be very stressful and traumatic, and is definitely a concern for any pagan considering a step out of the broomcloset.
- Possibility of alienating friends/family. The other big reason to stay in hiding: you can keep your family and friends. This is a big concern for any who actually like their family, and for those who consider friends to be a part of their family. True, families are supposed to love you no matter what–but there are some lines certain people feel should not be crossed, and religion is a hot-button issue for some. If you’re thinking about coming out, go to great lengths to find out the religious tendencies and opinions of family and friends before you make your decision. If they are firmly and strongly against paganism or any perceived Satanic spirituality, then you might want to think again.
- Questions from curious strangers. If you’re out of the broomcloset and are more public about it, chances are you’re going to get questions from strangers who happen to see your pentacle. They may ask you all kinds of things: do you believe in God, do you worship Satan, do you curse people, etc. Basically, expect that people could be coming up to you and asking you crazy or inane or rude questions. Occasionally you’ll get an actual, interested question, but more like than not it’s going to be something strange like do you make potions. If you aren’t comfortable with that, then it’s certainly something to consider when thinking about coming out.
- The job and co-workers situation. Do you come out to your co-workers? This particular question is still debated very much by various people. You might not want to come out to these people. Would you really want to? Would it even be necessary? You’re in a professional relationship with these people, not necessarily a personal relationship, so are personal details necessary in the workplace? They couldnt’ fire you because of discrimination laws, that’s true–but they could make your life hell five days out of seven and technically get away with it (depending on what they’re doing) unless you complain to HR or a boss. Even if you’re out, you might want to stay in for these people.
- Safety. By not putting yourself out there you don’t allow for the possibility for any of these things. The broomcloset is a safe place to stay, as no one will know you’re pagan. No questions from pesky or righteous strangers, no weird looks, no alienation. And no chance of discrimination or prejudice or even the possibility of a hate crime. Yes, there is safety in numbers, and coming out would grant that safety in numbers if you could find other pagans. But there’s also safety in the broomcloset.
Coming out can be a very negative decision. There are issues of personal safety, alienation, and prejudice that can make life hell, and coming out could really make life harder. However, this decision is very personal. It has to work for you, no matter what anyone else says.