International Pagan Coming Out Day, May 2, 2011

As we prepare to celebrate the festival of Beltane, a newer celebration is coming hard on its heels. This year, May 2nd has been designated International Pagan Coming Out Day. Coming right after Beltane, it’s a love fest in its own right, for by coming out, we are affirming our right to love ourselves for what we are.

In honor of the day, a lot of people are sharing stories about their own coming out, but that’s hard for me to do. I’ve never been in the closet, and to be honest, I don’t really get the “in the closet” thing at all. Call me naive, clueless, or bold, but being in the closet about anything never really made sense to me. (Maybe it’s having Mercury in Sagittarius; my normal communication mode is to blurt stuff out.)

But I know my path is not everyone’s. Many people have found their Pagan hearts long before they were willing to share that discovery with anyone else. And many Pagans, just as GBLT folk and other minorities, have lost jobs or children or friends or family just because they were honest about who they were.

Still, in my own heart, I do not believe that living a lie is any nobler than speaking one. A deception is just that. Secrets are seldom safe, and living in fear of discovery is its own kind of hell. I couldn’t do it. If you can, if it’s your choice, well, I’m not going to condemn you for it. It’s your life, your shoes, and your choice. But I couldn’t do it.

When I talk about being out, so many people have said to me, “Well, it must be different where you live. I couldn’t do it here.” “Where I live” covers a lot of territory. I’ve been an out Pagan in Chicago, in Ashland, OR, in Granville (pop. 1500) a rural Illinois town, Greensboro, Kernersville, Durham and Pittsboro, all in central NC, in the suburban upstate NY towns of Nyack and Valley Cottage, and a few other places I’m sure I’m forgetting. I’ve worn pentagram jewelry, had pentagram stained glass in my windows, even got written up in the newspapers and interviewed on radio and TV in all of those places. Oh, yeah, I ran an occult shop Peoria, Illinois. Yep, Peoria.

No one ran me out of any of those towns.

As far as I know, I’ve never lost a job because I was Pagan. (The economy — plus Amazon, Borders and Barnes & Noble– did in the occult shop, not public opinion.) I didn’t have kids in school, although lots of Pagan friends of mine did. All those kids survived. (Isaac’s son, my stepson, went to school wearing a pentagram and a “I’m Pagan–you got a problem with that?” attitude. He survived.)

I do have some family members, specifically some cousins who don’t wish to associate with me because of my “lifestyle.” That makes me sad. I don’t approve of their lifestyle, a rigid Christianity, but I never tried to disassociate myself from them because of it. Heck, I even tried to friend them on Facebook. They declined. I have to think it is their loss.

Friends and lovers I wouldn’t accept if they didn’t accept me as Pagan. What would be the point? A gal once told me she would come out only if she knew that none of her friends would disapprove. What kind of friends are they, I asked her, if they do not want to know the real you? She couldn’t answer. I couldn’t have that kind of “friend.”

What I have gained by being “out” (and in my case about as out as you could be) is so far ahead of what little I might preserve by keeping secrets, I simply cannot imagine having lived any other way.

And I gain not just for myself, but for others. Walking point isn’t easy, but it is necessary. Every time someone comes out, they make it a little bit easier for the person after them. Every time someone lives out, they help making living out commonplace and unremarkable.

You, dear reader, have to make your own decisions. But if you have at all considered the power you would gain by being who and what you are, then I encourage you participate in Pagan Coming Out Day.

You know that thing they say about the Internet, “Information wants to be free”? Our hearts want to be free, too.

Pagan Coming Out Day logoJust do it.

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