Out – Star Foster: Complexities of being more openly Pagan
Coming out is complex and ongoing. Coming out to my family and friends wasn’t very traumatic. There’s no real story there. Yet now that I am more publicly Pagan than I have ever been before I feel the stresses and strains of being out more keenly.
I assume people won’t understand and so I give them water-down answers about my religion. A co-worker asked me last fall whether my blessing for a meal would just be thanking Mother Nature and I said yes and left it at that, a one-dimensional view of my faith. In truth I would bless the hands that made the meal, the ancestors for their blessings and the Gods for their bounty. Sitting in a meeting at my multi-faith company I found myself sitting with my hand covering the word “Witchcraft” on the book I was holding. Though I was in the safest of places I subconsciously felt the need to conceal the true nature of what I was reading. Apparently I have trouble opening up to people of other faiths even in a safe environment of understanding. This troubles me.
Nowadays it’s not as easy to be discreet, particularly in business matters. I recently had a bad interaction with a company I have worked with productively for years and I can’t help but wonder if it’s partly because now my job title contains the word “Pagan”. It makes me wonder if my reluctance to be more open isn’t justified?
Despite my occasional misgivings, every morning I wake up and choose to be openly Pagan. I am Pagan today because of the people who went before me who chose to be openly Pagan. Maybe the next generations won’t have to worry about the concept of “coming out” simply because folks like me chose to be out. That alone makes any discomfort or difficulty worth it for me. While I won’t be “coming out” on May 2nd, I do intend to celebrate that day by consciously choosing to be more open, less reserved and more passionate about my faith. When I speak to people of other faiths they should not see a stereotype confirmed in me, but a Pagan soul on fire!
Star Foster is Managing Editor of the Pagan portal at Patheos.com, and a Southern Witch.