Pagan and Wiccan Clubs in the University
And then some people see our sign "Pagan" and sign up without even talking to us -- they just know they want to be a part of this. (In theory, at least, since less than 10% of the people who sign up actually come to our meetings and events.)
While the city I live in has a one of the largest numbers of people who identify as Pagans per capita (in Canada), there is a generally high tolerance and acceptance for an obscure faith such as ours. Yet being on public display does leave us vulnerable.
Case in point: At our last Clubs Days, a man in his 40s, an immigrant, noticed a book on our table (Starhawk's The Spiral Dance), and seeing the word "dance" in the title, thought we were a dance club.
I explained to him that no, we are a religious club, and that spiral dancing is sometimes a part of ritual.
He mentioned he had just signed up for the ballroom dance club and wondered if I was going to join or if I had joined too.
No, I told him, but I hear it's lots of fun.
He said something about all the women in that club being so young, something about not mature like me... and immediately I was suspicious. This man was flirting with me, even though I had my wedding ring in plain sight. He signed up for our club, but I prayed he wouldn't show up.
Well, for our first meeting, he did show up. Even though I inserted mention of my husband several times through the conversation, he sat there patiently through the discussion, pretending to be interested in Paganism, but was obviously completely uninterested in doing any reading up on the topic (you know, as most Pagans do).
I told him there were tons of great websites and that our local public library has hundreds of books. He said he would rather talk to someone about it. I knew what he was getting at. I am obviously the elder of the group, but giving him the benefit of the doubt, I gave him my contact information.
He emailed me on a Monday, asking me to meet him that afternoon. I replied that I do not live in town, that I only come into town once or twice a week and would need more notice than a few hours. His next email asked me then if I would be coming into town tomorrow, if we could see a movie, and if getting home was difficult then I could stay over at his place.
I was shocked. This to me was a clear message that he was not interested in the club or even Paganism, that he was trying to pursue me romantically. I've been a target for unwanted sexual attention a lot in my life, so I have a rather strong intuition about it now and am seldom wrong. I called him on it -- told him I was married and asked if he was even interested in Paganism.
A few weeks went by with no response from him, so I considered him gone. But then the other day he did write again, saying no, he was not trying to pursue me, that he is married too... What he didn't do however is ask more about the club (did he notice his name had been taken off the mailing list?) or about Paganism in particular. He just wanted to spend time with me.
I asked him -- what if his wife knew that he had invited me, a woman he barely knows, to join a dance club, then to a movie, and to sleep over? In my mind, that leaves no doubt as to what his intentions were, but he pleaded Not Guilty. If my husband did that, I would be through the roof with rage, end of story. I asked this man to leave me alone, and he is harassing me still. I may have to seek help from Campus Security. I am glad, at least, that it was me this man was chasing and not one of the younger women.