*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.
And now for my opinions! =D Mwahaha.
No, it’s not really as bad as that. Being open about spirituality can be very difficult. There is a lot of prejudice and misunderstanding that still occurs in the world. Because paganism is more close-mouthed and low-key about what this version of spirituality entails, there is a wealth of preconceptions and misconceptions and prejudice stacked against pagans. We don’t proselytize, and some people simply cannot understand that. We don’t have a holy text or a holy building in which we worship (such as a church, synagogue, temple, etc.), and even more people cannot understand how we work with divinity without these things. It has become easier in recent years as some pagans become more active and slightly more vocal about out spirituality, but that does not mean that paganism is suddenly without opposition.
Coming out should be a decision that is thought over for a time. Granted, accidents happen in which you might be outed against your will, but for most that isn’t what happens. This decision is difficult, and this action should not be taken lightly. A pagan who is out is a pagan who has changed their life forever. Once out of the broomcloset, it would be almost impossible to go back in (unless you wanted to move to a different state or country–that might work). There are a number of things to think about: the impact on family, the impact on friends, their reactions, the impact on your social and work lives, general public reactions, and also think about the impact on you and whether you think you would have to worry about your personal safety if you should decide to come out.
Most important is the impact this decision would have on you. If your friends can’t stick by you, then maybe they weren’t really friends who truly loved you in the first place. Perhaps you would be better off without those people. Family, that’s a little more sticky. Family is supposed to love you no matter what. That, sadly, is not how it always plays out. But for better or worse, you’re stuck with these people. Even if you become estranged because of this decision, they would still be there, in the back of your mind, where you would wonder how they’re doing and if things could have been different. Think hard about whether or not you would be able to function if this type of reaction came about. It wouldn’t mean that you would be estranged forever, either–it could simply mean that perhaps there would be a delay in acceptance and they could come around. Other people may not even care.
There are positives to being out. You would no longer have to hide. There would be no touching your throat at family occasions to make sure your pentacle is still under your shirt. There would be no skirting around questions from friends (or family). You would be able to wear whatever jewelry you wanted, when you wanted, and feel like it’s no big deal. It’s like a weight had been lifted from your shoulders (however cliche that sounds), and suddenly you’re free from the burdens of hiding out in the dark and shadowy place of fear and loneliness that is the broomcloset.
I am not advocating that every pagan come out. There are some people who have some very good reasons to stay in that broomcloset, and until those reasons go away or get resolved, that’s where they’re staying. But I am also not advocating that every pagan stay in. There is the choice to also be out only to a select few people. That’s how it is with me–only some people know. Most of my family does not yet know (and if they suspect anything, they aren’t saying). For now, that’s the way I like it. You can have one foot in the closet and one foot out.
What is important in this decision is that each person does what is best personally. This decision should not be pressured upon anyone. It’s a big decision, and up to the individual, as so much is in paganism.
And as Shakespeare wrote in his play Hamlet: “This above all: to thine own self be true.”