For my ‘B’ prompt with the Pagan Blog Project 2012, I wanted to write about being in the Broom Closet. It’s difficult, not feeling like you can be open and honest about your beliefs, thoughts about faith and other religious topics, practices and relationships with fellow believers and the divine.
I have several reasons to feel like remaining ‘in the broom closet’ is best at this time. I have a family who would not understand or be supportive. I live in an area where my beliefs are generally misunderstood and misrepresented. I volunteer in my community in several different capacities working with families and I think that given the climate in this area and things I have seen and heard, I feel like being ‘out’ would probably create a situation where what I say is devalued because of what I believe. Maybe this is a cynical view, but all of those things combined means that it is easier for me to be selective with whom I share my beliefs.
It’s an interesting position, being ‘in’ and being a sort of leader in my local Teaching Circle. We all take turns teaching; our organizational structure is more like a group of friends exploring topics that interest us than it is a ‘coven’, but still. I take my responsibilities within the group seriously, and approach my teaching assignments with the same gusto that I put into other tasks that I feel are important. I am not the only one who is in the broom closet, so even though it’s a conflict really, it sort of feels like it is. One of the things that our Circle agreed upon is the desire to keep our group closed, close-knit and private so even if I was ‘out’ I still would present, we wouldn’t be advertising or anything.
But if we did do any sort of public awareness events, or even just for myself outside of the group, being ‘in’ means that I miss out on things like Pagan Pride Day and other events where community outreach and promoting a positive Pagan image would be possible. I would love to participate in some of those events, and plan to one day.
Another aspect of the broom closet is children – how do you instill a sense of pride in who you are when you avoid talking about your beliefs with the general public? One way we do that is by being selective about who we spend our time with. I think that community is key in whatever you choose to do – in this case, many of our friends are either Pagan or extremely open-minded. We’ve been very fortunate to have a community of close friends who also have children that are being raised Pagan. I think this, more than anything, helps my children to feel ‘normal’ even when they can’t talk about the specifics of our practices. We’ve also given them general terms to use when they feel like answering questions. Having less path-specific terms makes conversations easier.
I won’t be in the closet forever. It’s what I feel is best at this point in my life, but I have been taking steps to come out. Starting this blog is part of that journey, I think.
Care to share your thoughts on families and the broom closet?