The Broom Closet

Jason Pitzl-Waters of The Wild Hunt blog has this piece on two Pagan politicians who’ve been “outed” by their opponents and seen their chances of getting elected drop dramatically. Jason reminds us “In the age of the Internet there is no “broom closet” secure enough to keep your secret.” He closes with an exhortation to “come out, come out, wherever we are.”

I’m not in the broom closet, but I’m not exactly out either. I don’t lie to people, but if a casual acquaintance asks about my religion, I tell them I’m a Unitarian Universalist (and that in itself usually takes some explaining). I’m practicing Paganism in a Unitarian Universalist setting. CUUPS (national and local) has developed its own particular flavor of Neopagan practice. I’m as active in the church as I am in CUUPS (most weeks I’m more active in the church). Identifying as a Unitarian Universalist is absolutely the truth.

But it’s not the whole truth. And that bothers me.

When I was a teenager, my mother and I came to an unspoken agreement. She didn’t ask questions she didn’t want answered, and I didn’t talk about things she didn’t want to hear: don’t ask, don’t tell. My mother has (or had) psychic skills I can only hope to approach – I have no doubt she knew every bit of risky teenage behavior I engaged in (which even for the time wasn’t all that risky, although there are a couple of incidents I look back on and thank all the gods things worked out the way they did), but the arrangement allowed us both to avoid what would have been some unpleasant confrontations.

It also taught me to compartmentalize my life. In doing so, I’ve avoided confrontation, but I’ve also not been completely honest. In the case of religion, I rationalize it by saying I don’t like it when other people are vocal about their religion in secular settings, so I shouldn’t do that either. Which is true, but when a friendly co-worker asks “what are you doing this weekend?” and I answer “I’ve got a thing at church” instead of “I’ll be leading a celebration of the Autumn Equinox in honor of Danu and Cernunnos” it just doesn’t feel right.

I have no desire to run for office. I work for a company that judges people by their performance, and I have a long track record of good results – plus they aren’t going to expose themselves to charges of religious discrimination. I suppose being identified as Pagan could work against me if I’m ever job-hunting again (since when you’re not hired they don’t have to tell you why), but if a company wouldn’t hire me because of my religion I probably wouldn’t want to work for them anyway. I don’t have much to fear from being completely honest… except some of those unpleasant confrontations.

Sooner or later, everything comes out in the open, and so will all of this. Either I’ll finally start telling the whole truth or someone will follow the trail of magical breadcrumbs I’ve left all over cyberspace. I think subconsciously I’m hoping someone does.

For now, though, I’m officially a Unitarian Universalist, and nothing more.

About John Beckett

I grew up in Tennessee with the woods right outside my back door. Wandering through them gave me a sense of connection to Nature and to a certain Forest God. I’m a Druid graduate of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids, the Coordinating Officer of the Denton Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans and a former Vice President of CUUPS Continental. I’ve been writing, speaking, teaching, and leading public rituals for the past eleven years. I live in the Dallas – Fort Worth area and I earn my keep as an engineer.


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