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Author Topic: The Coming Out Topic  (Read 20512 times)
FierFlye
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« Reply #30: January 14, 2009, 09:37:23 am »

also, i just mean that it's not *necessary*...not *don't*. i do share what i do with people if they ask...i just don't fee that i *have* to tell everyone....does that make sense?

Your post brings to mind another question: (for everyone)
5.  How important is it to you that people know your religious beliefs?  Why?
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« Reply #31: January 14, 2009, 09:46:41 am »

3. If you haven't "come out" do you think you ever will? Why or why not?

I think I will eventually just because it is a part of who I am and I would hate for my grandmother to find out from someone else who just can't keep a secret. Though I will wait till I have my own place and can fully support myself. The reasoning behind this particular move is that my mother tends to try and lay down a guilt trip whenever I make a decision she doesn't like even though I live with my grandparents instead of her. I think my father would be pretty understanding since my step-mom is wiccan. My grandmother and grandfather on my mother's side i'm not sure how they would react but I can only hope they would understand and accept it. The pair on my father's side again i'm not sure they might take it either way though my father's mother has always very nice so I think she would take pretty easily. Still it always helps to be ready for anything.

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« Reply #32: January 14, 2009, 10:11:36 am »

5.  How important is it to you that people know your religious beliefs?  Why?

*shrug*  Meh.

It was important to me to tell certain people close to me earlier on because at the time I felt I was decieving them by the way I was living my life (still going to church and participating in related activities, at the time; I don't anymore) and I didn't feel right lying to them, especially not about something that I knew would be important to them.  Now, those people know, and I don't really care if anyone else does or not.  (With the exceptions of those noted previously with whom I have chosen not to discuss the issue at all, but even that is on the negative side of the question--who not to tell--whereas you're asking about the positive--who to tell.)  I hope that those who don't share my beliefs will be conscious of the plurality of beliefs present in the world around them in general terms, but feel no need to specifically tell them about my beliefs.

There's not a real "why" behind this, I guess, it's just...  Why would I?  Outside of those people close to me who have a little more claim on knowing things about my personal development than most people would, why go around telling people that kind of thing?  I don't see the point in it.  It's not most people's business.  Excepting the aforementioned extended family members, I don't see myself being upset if someone did find out, but I don't feel the need to offer up that information either.
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« Reply #33: January 14, 2009, 10:26:17 am »

There's not a real "why" behind this, I guess, it's just...  Why would I?  Outside of those people close to me who have a little more claim on knowing things about my personal development than most people would, why go around telling people that kind of thing? 

That's pretty much my view also.  If religion is not important to my relationship with them, there's no reason to tell them.
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« Reply #34: January 14, 2009, 11:24:26 am »



My immediate family, and some of my extended family, knows, and they don't care; I don't talk religion with the ones who would be likely to care.  My dad, who gets annoyed with some of the more overtly religious people in the family, will call me up and ask about the pagan background of this or that, so he can tell them off in case anyone tries to convert him.  Cheesy  (I'm also the go-to person for verifying if email forwards are urban legends or not, so it's as much that I'm a folklorist as a Pagan.)

At work, people know; I mentioned in my job interview that I wanted to write about Pagan literature for teens, and talked a bit about it, which is how it came up.  (I mentioned that I was a Pagan, in the same context that I talked about being a fan (my diss was on fanfic) -- showing that I had "insider perspective.")  Nobody's asked me about it, and certainly aren't likely to care beyond "hey, interesting" -- I'm an academic, we're supposed to be weird.
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« Reply #35: January 14, 2009, 12:16:26 pm »

5.  How important is it to you that people know your religious beliefs?  Why?

After reading your question, I realize I don't really know how I feel about other people knowing or not knowing my beliefs. I don't feel the need to shout it from the rooftops.  I would like to be able to be more open about my beliefs with my family, because I feel it is part of who I am. But I know they would never accept the idea of me being a Pagan. It's more important to me to be accepted by my family and maintain family harmony than it is to have them know my religious views. I think if I were in a serious relationship, I'd want the guy to know, and I'd want close friends to know eventually as well, as long as I thought they would be accepting.

TBH, it bothers me more when people who barely even know me just assume I'm a Christian just because my parents are than it does that people don't know I'm a Pagan. People who have never even seen me before and happen to know my parents will just start talking to me as if I were a Christian. I told one guy I met that I was an English teacher. He started talking about how that was a great way to get into countries that were closed to missionaries, and with that skill, I could be a missionary anywhere. This guy had never even seen me before! I thought that was quite presumptuous to assume he knew my religious beliefs when we'd only been talking for less than 5 minutes. I don't expect people to know I'm a Pagan, since I don't wear any symbols and I don't walk around announcing it. But I do expect people not to make assumptions about what belief system I follow when they don't even know me. I expect them to realize that I am myself, not my parents, and have my own beliefs that may or may not match those of my parents.
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« Reply #36: January 14, 2009, 12:19:26 pm »

He started talking about how that was a great way to get into countries that were closed to missionaries, and with that skill, I could be a missionary anywhere.

Not to mention a certain amount of jerkiness in assuming you wanted to be a missionary first and English teacher second.  Because, y'know, it takes a certain kind of jerkiness to do that - and more to assume other people would!
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« Reply #37: January 14, 2009, 01:57:52 pm »

5.  How important is it to you that people know your religious beliefs?  Why?

Mu.  Someone who isn't aware of my religious stuff is pretty axiomatically not close to me, because one would have to be an idiot to not notice it on any level of real acquaintance.  It's not important for them to know, it's just inevitable.
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« Reply #38: January 14, 2009, 02:31:27 pm »

Mu.  Someone who isn't aware of my religious stuff is pretty axiomatically not close to me, because one would have to be an idiot to not notice it on any level of real acquaintance.  It's not important for them to know, it's just inevitable.

This.

I'm out to people I spend time with, because, well, it's impossible *not* to notice the impact of my religious life on when I'm free. (Sort of like it's impossible not to notice what I do for work, because of how it affects when I'm free - some meetings after school, but long vacations at times, too.)

I came out to my now-ex boss a few years ago (after a number of years of being *very* quiet about it at work) because I started feeling worse and worse about not being able to say *anything* about what I did over the weekend to him.

Sample conversation (say over a weekend with an esbat and a class)
Him: So, what'd you do this weekend?
Me: (sorting through "Class. Ritual. Worked on writing ritual. Um....") "Spent time with friends?"

Which is true enough, but sounds really stupid when you say it every weekend without any further details, y'know?

However, Paganism being Paganism, it needed a little explanation before what I said made sense - but for the last couple of years, it's been "Oh, we had ritual for [whatever Sabbat]" or "I spent Saturday at a full day class on astrology" or "I spent a lot of time working on the new coven materials - hey, I wanted to ask you about that article you mentioned a few weeks ago about diverse learning styles that you found interesting, because it relates to something I'm working on." Not tons of details - but just enough that I can put it in a sentence or two, y'know?

And then, this fall, I did two presentations (one to our diversity club, one to our comparative religion class) about Wicca and modern Paganism. I'm still quiet about it, and don't discuss details with students (other than pointing them at general resources we own/etc.) but a few faculty have asked me a little more. The school I work for also is making a big point of discussing pluralism and diversity in multiple areas (including religion) and on encouraging integrity to claim the things we care about within the context of the community (again, including religion), and I finally made a decision that if I was going to do that, I had to be a little more open about my own beliefs.

I also consider that part of my job as a priestess active in the community, frankly - and I made the decision to be a little more public about it based on the example of a former faculty member who's an Episcopal deacon. She didn't talk about it all the time, but she did talk about it when it was appropriate, or when her religious commitments had a bearing on her teaching. (For example, she was a communications and speech teacher, so her experience giving sermons was actually really relevant.)

With my new minion (as I've taken my former boss's job, and hired someone to do what I was doing), I talked to him about it early on, both because I figured he might have heard (and better to be open about it) and also because we were talking about what we'd like to do in our space (and I wanted to be able to talk a bit more concretely about some of my experiences in creating a particular kind of feel in a space, which is heavily influenced by my experiences in a training circle and coven and other rituals. Not that I'm doing magical stuff here - but ideas like having food once a week, tea all the time, thinking about color and placement and so on all come out of those experiences.)

And also because I'm sharing an office for at least six months with this guy, and he's enjoyable to talk to, and I didn't want to set up unnecessary barriers - it's not my preferred leadership style.
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« Reply #39: January 14, 2009, 03:09:10 pm »

With my new minion (as I've taken my former boss's job, and hired someone to do what I was doing), I talked to him about it early on

How do you bring the subject up, and how do you justify it as relevant?

*imagines conversation, "So...I'm a pagan."
"Okay....and?"
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« Reply #40: January 14, 2009, 07:20:12 pm »

How do you bring the subject up, and how do you justify it as relevant?

*imagines conversation, "So...I'm a pagan."
"Okay....and?"

The way this went was something like this:

Me: [talking about ideas for how we'd like to make changes in the library space. Mentally gets to 'want to talk about creating welcoming spaces where it's going to be a heck of a lot easier if I can mention the religious background in passing.'] Oh. While I'm thinking of it ... did you talk to [comparative religion teacher, also his boss for the past few months] about the presentation I did for his class in November?

[Also useful info, because if they *did* talk about it, makes it clear I'm okay discussing it with him.]

Minion: A little bit, yeah.

Me: Well, one of the things I'm really interested in from my religious background is how people create community spaces, or make them particularly welcoming or effective. As you might have figured out, I'm a priestess in a tradition that's close to Wicca, and I'm fairly active in public education and community building work as part of that. So, first, if you have any questions about it, feel free to ask - but mostly, that's a lot of what gets me thinking about how to build a warm and welcoming space here, and what approaches I can borrow from those experiences that are appropriate here.

Minion: Oh, yes, that makes sense.

Me: [gives some specific ideas, and examples - like my tea and cookies on Thursdays for faculty idea, which is thus far very popular.]

With my (now ex) boss, I came in one morning (after talking to several people about how to have this conversation) and said, basically "There's something I'd really like to talk to you about - I've felt weird, the last couple of years, ducking perfectly reasonable questions like "What did you do this weekend" without really answering. Here's why I've been reticent - but I like you a lot as a person, not just a co-worker, and I wanted you to know." He and I then had a lovely little chat about it, he proceeded to start sending me solstice cards instead of Christmas cards, and life was cheerful.

I will admit I'm in a somewhat unusual position in two ways:

1) I work in an independent but non-sectarian school - this means that I work with people who are often open about their religious backgrounds, in and out of class, when it's appropriate to some other conversation. Besides the former teacher who was an Episcopal deacon, one of our diversity staff is a former Buddhist monk, we have a number of people active in Jewish community spaces, and so on and so forth. It's relatively normal to have occaisional mentions come up at the lunch table, or for people to come in and talk to the comparative religion class or an English class, or whatever when something relevant is being covered.

2) I'm an HPS in my tradition, who also does a certain amount of public education work around Paganism (I tend to the very low-key 'you must seek it out' kind - Pagan Pride board, my blog, past work teaching Seeker classes, but it's still there.) It started feeling *really* hypocritical to be working for a school that has integrity and courage as core values and *not* to share a little bit about other parts of my life (again, in appropriate ways common to people from other traditions). And it felt like I was not giving the school community a chance to deal with the other two core values - love of learning, and respect, which is sort of insulting to them, if you think about it.

Outing myself - especially to students - was a risk, and particularly because they're working on a search for the longterm contract for the job I'm currently doing for this spring (and which I'll be applying for, but may not be hired for - depends on what happens in the search.) But at the same time, I finally hit a point of "I know how to do these conversations in this community" (where I've been working for 8.5 years), and there's no good reason I shouldn't - and some very good reasons (like ongoing 'how to deal with pluralism and diversity' discussions in the school) that I should.

My experiences, incidentally, have been universally positive, including with students.
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« Reply #41: January 15, 2009, 03:06:40 am »

oh goodness... i would *never* direct a response in a personal sense. i mean 100% the universal "you"

also, i just mean that it's not *necessary*...not *don't*. i do share what i do with people if they ask...i just don't fee that i *have* to tell everyone....does that make sense?

geez...i really am sorry that i sounded less than kind. it was the farthest thing from my intention.

That's what I was hoping, but I was just checking.  Smiley
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« Reply #42: January 19, 2009, 04:03:13 pm »

I am guessing most of us here were not born into Pagan families, so most of us have had to face the question of whether or not to tell our families and friends, and if so, how. So, a few questions:

1. Have you told your family what you believe? Why or why not? How much have you told them?

2. If you have "come out," how did you tell your family? How did they react?

3. If you haven't "come out" do you think you ever will? Why or why not?

For me, I have not told my family I've decided to be a Pagan. I've discussed some of my beliefs to them, but mostly the ones related to how the environment should be treated.  I have told my mom I know a few people who indentify themselves as Pagans, and when I told her, she didn't know what that meant, or even that there was such a thing, in the 21st century western world, as a Pagan. (My parents are not only Christians, but also missionaries. So telling them I converted to another religion might not go over so well. They were disappointed enough when I announced I was agnostic 8 years ago. And somehow I think they'd take it harder if I announced I was a polytheist than if I announced I was Jewish, for instance.)

Another reason I have not told my family is because I have not chosen my path yet or which deities I will work with. I know they will have a lot of questions and I do not feel well equipt to answer them at this point.

Will I tell them eventually?  I don't know. Right now, I'm not ready. It's an important enough part of my life that I wish I could share it with them. I know that if I do make contact with a deity and really connect with him or her, I will be very excited about it, and it will be disappointing not being able to share it with some of the most important people in my life. But it would also be disappointing sharing it with someone who thinks it's either silly or just plain evil.

Yes I have told my family. My Dad was totally cool about it as was my youngest brother who walks the same kind of path. However, my sister next to me in age and had been my best friend, hasn't spoken to me since. I miss her very much. Thank the Goddess that I met my husband in a Wiccan chat room. My kids join us on the sabbats as do our grandkids.

I have lost 3 jobs over my choice of religion but that was ok too. I moved on to better jobs than those were to begin with. All of my friends know of my religious choice. They are given the option to stay friends or to go as they will. Some stayed, some left, and new ones came along as they do on any other path.
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« Reply #43: January 19, 2009, 07:41:14 pm »


I have lost 3 jobs over my choice of religion but that was ok too.

Is that even legal?
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« Reply #44: January 19, 2009, 08:53:11 pm »

Is that even legal?

No, but unfortunately it still occurs.
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