Out – Police Station
The first time I came out to anyone besides my husband, son, and a few very close friends happened in a police station in Austin, Minnesota.
I was on a yahoo list for area Pagans and one of the new persons posting was raising every red flag there was when it came to pedophile. Although he knew next to nothing about Paganism he called himself a High Priest and was only interested in teaching younger children and teens. He believed ritual should only be done skyclad, even by minors. He said that all his students would take part in the Great Rite, in actuality, as part of initiation. He was aggressive in trying to find out the names of our children and their ages. He couldn’t answer simple questions about Paganism or who he learned from or even books he had read. Those of us in the yahoo group emailed each other off-list and discussed if we should alert the police. Although most of us agreed he appeared to be a danger and knew next to nothing about Paganism other than what could be gleaned from five minutes spent on google, no one wanted to be the one to talk to the police.
I also wasn’t excited about going to the police. My husband was an attorney in a small town and I worried that he could lose his job. My parents didn’t know and if I went to the police in that small of a town, they would find out before sundown. I’m ashamed to admit I was hesitating. I called my husband to ask him if he thought I should go to the police and what that could mean for his job. I’ll never forget his words and it’s part of why I love him so much. He said, “What do you mean ‘if’ you should go to the police? Why have you not already called them? How this affects my career is a moot point. Hang up the phone and go to the police. Now.”
Which brings me back to sitting in a hard plastic chair next to a Detective’s desk, palms sweating, trying to think about how to start the conversation. The Detective noticed I was nervous and hesitating so he asked me an easy opening question, “You said that you may know of a possible pedophile or someone acting suspiciously that you would like us to check out, who is it and where do you know him from?” I went through the basics and then handed over the yahoo emails from the guy.
The Detective was very professional and didn’t bat an eye at anything I said or anything he read even though we were having discussions about what is the Great Rite, what does Skyclad mean, why did his wanting to teach minors provoke a worried response from the group, and what are the group norms that we have that this person is violating. After noting that the email exchanges had been going on for weeks before I decided to bring it to the attention of the police, he asked for more information on Paganism or clergy to contact that could assist him in being more sensitive to and getting to know our religious community better. He wanted to know if it was common or uncommon for predators to infiltrate our community and pose as religious leaders to sexually abuse others. He took me seriously and his questions showed he was not only interested in catching a possible sexual predator, he was interested making sure that Pagans would no longer be afraid of the police in Austin. He would treat us like any other citizen he had sworn to serve and protect.
Later, the Detective called me and let me know that they were able to track down the man and find out his real name. He was a registered sex offender and had a young teenage girl living with him in violation of his parole. He was taken back into custody and the Detective thanked me for stopping him before he added to his victims.
My husband did not lose his job. In fact, we found out that the sister of one of the law firm’s partners is Wiccan. My husband didn’t lose clients. My mother was not thrilled and is pretty sure I’m going to Hell, but we still love each other and not much has changed. We no longer live in Austin, but while I was still there I stopped hiding who I was and it was such a relief. I wouldn’t recommend having one of your early coming out experiences be in the the cop shop, but I can’t say I regret it and frankly – after doing that, telling anyone else is easy.