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Posts Tagged ‘diversity’

Last night in my multicultural counseling class we had a gay couple guest speak about the coming out process. I realize that there are many differences between the Wiccan community and the LGBT community, but I always find it interesting how many similarities there are because of us both identifying ourselves outside of mainstream society.

For one, we both face possible discrimination if we are publicly “out” and we have to constantly stand up for our human rights (so LGBT pagans really get a double whammy of work). Another thing they said was most LGBT people have usually felt a little different growing up, like they didn’t quite fit in to the main crowd so easy. Almost all of the Wiccans and Pagans I have known have said the same thing.

The couple went on to talk about the facts of coming out: it is not just a one time deal and you never have to do it again! The process never ends!! It is the same for Pagans… think about it: You may be out to your friends and family and maybe even those who you work with, but we are still having to judge the right time to come out to people we have just met, too.

For example, I have made some new friends at grad school, but I haven’t brought up my religion till last week because I wanted everyone to know who I was before any possible stereotypes would get slammed on me once I announce that I am Pagan. But here is finally how it went-and I wrote a nonfiction story about it so enjoy…

The Lesbian, The Christian and The Witch

Three female graduate students in their twenties are talking. One is a lesbian, one is a Christian and one is a witch:

The Christian to the Lesbian: “Sometimes I feel that others may be judging me on being a Christian because the stereotypes of Christians being judgmental, but I just want you to know that I completely accept and support your lifestyle. Not all Christians are the same… many of us do focus more on the love side.”

The Lesbian: “Thank you, that means a lot. I never really thought about how you are worried about stereotypes, too.”

The Witch: “Wow, I am so touched by this conversation and I am feeling ready to tell you both something: I’m Pagan!”

The Lesbian: “Pagan?”

The Witch: “Another common name is Wicca.”

The Lesbian: “No way! That is great- I don’t know any Wiccans. Hey my mom is really interested in the Salem Witch Trials.”

The Christian: “What does it mean to be Wiccan?”

The Witch: To honor the masculine and feminine divine and see the sacredness of nature mostly.

The Christian: “It sounds really interesting to learn about. I’m glad you told us. It sounds like we all have something we worry about being discriminated for. ”

The Witch to the Christian: “I owe you an apology, I was worried about telling you because I was placing that judgmental Christian stereotype on you. I have experienced a lot of prejudice from Christians in the past, but now I see that is not true of all, or maybe even most Christians- thank you for being so brave and talking about your feelings.”

Three friends walk back to class… and it doesn’t matter which one is the lesbian, the witch or the christian, because the first word they think about when they see each other is, “Friend”.

The End.

awww… now I am all teary eyed just thinking about it again 🙂

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Where have all the mystics gone and why can’t they be seen?

Where are all the shadow men and singers to the trees?

Why are all these people gathering around a common sound,

When there is so much diversity in the world waiting to be found?

When can I escape to a wooded hidden home

Where folk who speak of magic safely may roam?

Why are those who are gifted  shunned from out of sight,

When we the people need their blessings and  insight?

When can we return to the doctors and the queens

Who can speak from our world into the great unseen?

I call out to the wild of places still unmet

Keep all of your secrets hidden there- because if we knew, we would forget.

Until one day when we all can meet as the lovers that we are,

and make new ways and reinvent how to love from afar,

May we hold our mysteries silent and deep and never surrender to

What others think we should be and what we are supposed to do.

For the path of the mystic can be like a mirror into the moon,

What is reflected is the truth of beauty, but logic taints it too soon.

-By Bonnie Waller (Cicada)

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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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