Out of the Broom Closet, part two
By K. Peak
Well, you have decided to come out if that Broom Closet, you heart is right with it and you are strong enough to handle the "controversy." What are some of the things you (or your child) can expect?
Harassment… This is BIG. Many people still view anything not Christian, Jewish, Moslem, or Hindu as a joke. Hollywood has not helped the "plight" of the modern Pagan at all!!! Just watch "the Craft" or any other movie and you will see what I mean. Your best bet for handling harassment is to try NONCONFRONTATIONAL education. Simply ask where the person learned that and ask if they would like to know the truth. If they say "yes", SIMPY explain. Do not go into serious detail, it is often too much for the average person to comprehend. Just give the basics and explain that your faith is recognized by many states and the US Government (doesn't the Army Chaplain's book have a section on Wicca?). If the harassment continues, talk to a trusted teacher or guidance counselor. If they do nothing, ask your parents to speak to the principal. If nothing happens, go to the school board. Harassment is illegal and the schools must protect you!
Moronic Questions 101… Oh man! Can you really fly on a broom? Can you turn me into a frog? Can you cast spells like in the movies? DO you worship the devil and have to sign pacts with him? And my personal favorite: Gee you don't look like a witch… Most of what is believed by the general public about Wicca has come from centuries of building myths and lies and now Hollywood. You must remember, all throughout history when new religions and beliefs rose, they wanted to either convert or destroy anyone not of their beliefs. Religion was politics. Propaganda is a great way to bring down people. Rumors, lies, myths and, if needed, force can be very damaging. Look at what happens to a schoolgirl's reputation of someone starts a lie that she is a bit loose with her "favors." What can happen to a guy if accused falsely of improper conduct with a girl? Their lives can be seriously hurt. SO when people ask questions that are really moronic or even attacks you for your faith – it is done out of ignorance or firm belief in lies. If this turn to harassment, you are protected and have resources mentioned above to turn to.
Can you do for me… pleeease… I was often asked if I would perform a love spell on someone. No. This is against "Harm None." What if the object of the spell does not want any part of the other person? What if the person asking you to assist has an unhealthy attitude? (A spell is a version of prayer where you are asking the higher forces to assist you with a task – they may, may not or may do so in a manner undesired depending on your motives). Casting spells has to be done with thought. If you cast a spell to get an "A" on next week's history test will you? Not if you do not put effort into studying. Don't get caught up in the attitude of "I can do anything for anyone by casting a spell. It may not work out how you intended!
Stereotyping… Do not be stereotypical… No where is it written that you must dress Gothic, dye your hair purple, have more piercings that a chunk of pegboard and look like a raccoon with so much eye makeup. Stereotypes do nothing but hurt others of that faith. Why do people think all Arabs are terrorists? Stereotypes. Wicca is a religion, simple as that. It is how a person conducts him or herself within the religion that helps mold how the religion will be viewed. To act in a manner dictated by movies and fiction does nothing but harm the rest. Bear this in mind. If you wish to embrace the stereotype of Wicca, then, in my opinion, you are insulting those of us who are serious about the religion. Plus, the more stereotypical you are, the less people will take you seriously.
Basically, be prepared for anything from acceptance to being ostracized. And remind people that acceptance is NOT the same as approving. You can accept a person for what he or she is without approving of all that they do. You can accept that something happens without approving of it. (I like using the strong analogy of the Holocaust here. I accept that it happened but I sure DO NOT approve of it at all. Get the picture?) I make sure people really know me before they learn my faith. It is often easier for them to handle when they know me as a person without the religious end involved. Just a safety net here in a sense, it is easier to accept when the person is known and liked first!
If you have any serious doubts about coming out, do not do it just now. You have to be strong enough to handle the controversy you will cause. Do not feel you have to martyr yourself for the cause. I know very few people who are able to handle being a martyr. It is also asking much of a teen or child. Parents do not make your child the poster child for Pagan Parenting. It is not fair to your child. If he or she wants to keep quiet, so be it. Respect that. Do you remember how tough it was to be different in school for ANY reason: height, weight, brains, glasses, and braces, not built like the "ideal?" It is tough enough to be a kid without your parents making you the focus of their agenda.
Coming out of the Broom Closet is tough. It can be even harder if you are just a kid. But remember, you are not alone. We have all done this at some point in time. Some of us have people we will not come out to and others we will. Some of us come out to everyone, some to none. Use your gut instinct and be strong. Do not let any one push you into it – Parents, please heed this… When the time is right, you can do it.