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(sign my friends and I put up along a highway for Pagan Pride Day)

Rewind my life about eight years ago…

I had been assistant coaching high school color guard with a respected older role model in my life for years and I was afraid to tell her that I was Pagan. I was afraid to tell anyone at that point. I grew up with so much discrimination because of my faith in my own family that I was convinced everyone else would despise me too if they knew my true religious identity. And then one day one of my pentacle wearing friends visited me at practice and the other coach made a comment after my friend had left. It was then that I made a decision: I am not going to hide who I am anymore. I told her I was Pagan. You know what happened? Not what I initially expected: because she was actually pleasantly surprised! She said that she had met a Pagan couple on her honeymoon and that they were the nicest people she had ever met! A few years later she came to my handfasting and enjoyed herself.

If it hadn’t been for that one experience with that nice Pagan couple, this important woman in my life could have responded much, much differently. I am so grateful  for all of the friendly Pagans and Wiccans before me that have been proudly out of the broom closet. Wicca and Paganism is still very, very new for our society to grasp. Often new= scary.

The other day I was in my graduate school classes and we were talking about multiculturalism, tolerance and diversity appreciation. When the teacher asked us to name different subcultures someone mentioned Earth Based Spirituality. The teacher went on to use that as an example of how we are going to have to be understanding of different beliefs, “like Wicca”,  to be effective counselors. Looking around the room made my heart sink. A look of disgust swept across one woman’s face and I wanted to cry and yell at the same time. The subject was quickly changed but I knew that once the subject came around again I would reveal my religious identity for the sake of educating everyone in the classroom about my faith, like I had so often done during my undergrad. This is not a small task to be open. I risk  losing the respect of some of my professional peers and professors.

There are so many stereotypes that can hurt us. The most common is that Pagans and Wiccans  are either evil or are just a big joke. Both perceptions are hurtful and highly disrespectful.

Watch this shocking video to see the media openly mock Pagans and Wiccans:

http://www.causes.com/actions/1733105-demand-fox-news-apologize-to-pagans-and-wiccans?recruiter_id=46939271&utm_campaign=own_timeline&utm_medium=wall&utm_source=fb

I wanted to slap these ignorant reporters after watching this, but I thought back to that mysterious “nice Pagan couple” from before that had so willingly helped pave the way for me to be accepted. These reporters had never known any Pagans or Wiccans, but I am willing to bet you that they actually had- but the people were still in the closet about their identity. I know a lot of openly Pagan people, but it would shock you to know how many more people I know who are Pagan and do not tell others. I am not judging them, it is their own business why they want to stay in the closet. My only point is that there are way more Pagans out there than people realize!

If you are out of the “broom closet” I want to give you a big hug! It is only through exposure and advocacy that  people can begin to tolerate and accept us. The public needs to see that we are a diverse population with varying personalities, education levels, ages and ethnicities. It can be a scary thing to be out, and we won’t be able to win everyone over, but simply wearing a goddess or pentacle necklace in public can lead to wonderful conversations with people who are generally curious. Let’s not let the few intolerant “bad apples” of the crowd deter us from being open if we really want to.

~Blessings,

Cicada

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