Over at the wonderful Feminist Pagan, Baring the Aegis reader and awesome human being Shadow, posted a blog about being out of the broom closet. She asked if--and if so, how far--her readers are out of the broom closet. Instead of answering her on her blog, I decided to make a post for it because it might be nice for my readers to read as well.

First off, I adore the term 'broom closet'. I know some people hate it, but there is a wonderful lightness and cheekiness to it that I respect in my Paganism. There is imagery surrounding the broom that I appreciate very much. It's very 'witch-oriented' but reclaiming household worship and practice is, for me, also linked to the broom. The broom fits with my Hellenic practice, so I don't mind it being used as a descriptor under the banner.

Now, am I out of the broom closet? Does everyone know I'm pagan? Yeah, I think just about everyone and their grandmother knows I'm Pagan. Because it impacts my life as much as it does, I 'get away with it' very rarely. As for the basics; my parents, my girlfriend's family and my friends know I'm Pagan. Most are aware I'm Hellenic but I'm not sure if all of them know exactly what that means.

A little further out; I'm pretty sure everyone at college knows (or has heard at some point) that I am Pagan. I think I told you all before that I tend to do a presentation or talk about Paganism in front of most of my scholastic classes since high school. This is mostly done from a protective viewpoint. I come out at work if I work there for more than half a year or so, or when it comes up. People I live with, know as well.

When I say I rarely 'get away with it', I don't mean that as a negative thing. It just means that much of my practice is daily--so also when I go away overnight--and I do odd little things throughout the day. A couple of examples; as a daily devotional to Hestia, I save bits of food to give to her during my evening prayers. At home, I simply put the food bits in my burner for safe keeping but when I eat out, I need to save it. This means that I take a bit of food, take out a little container from my bag, put the food in it and put the container back in my bag. I've gotten good at not being obvious about it but people do tend to notice. It just goes much easier when you know that the people around you will understand what you are doing.

Another example; my girlfriend and I went to Berlin a couple of weeks ago and we took two of her friends whom I have seen often but always through my girlfriend. We would all be sharing one hotel room. Both knew in advance that I'm Pagan but they weren't aware of the exact how and what of it. To smooth everything out, both Maaike and I prepared them a bit so they wouldn't find it too odd or uncomfortable when I set up my portable altar on my nightstand, lagged a bit behind in the morning to do my ritual, nor leave a bit early to do my nighttime ritual.

I know I'm very much out of the broom closet but I still get surprised every now and again on how out, exactly, I am. I went to the birthday of a good friend, and student, of mine a little while ago. Her parents were also there. I had met them before, during previous birthdays, but we rarely talk about anything other than the usual chit-chat. During this birthday party, however, my friend's father sat himself down next to me and started chatting about my magazine and Pagan festivals. Mind you, he is not Pagan, and he has had a bit of difficulty in the past about talking about it with his daughter. For him to come right out and ask me about my faith at a birthday party is a pretty big deal and it delighted my friend.

I think coming out is important. Hellenismos is very much unknown but even Paganism isn't very well known in the Netherlands. In my opinion, religious freedom comes only when you claim it. If no one knows your religion, you are safe in obscurity, but it will be harder to fight for your rights when they are taken from you, or when you discover you need them, like when you want to build a temple. Coming out is not for everyone but I would encourage very Pagan to at least consider it.