Keeping Calm: Why I Prefer Tolerance

From what tiny scrap of info we have, it seems PSG made a poor judgement call. They have two women’s only rituals this year, and one was run by a Dianic for cis-women only. Maybe if the timing of the two rituals had been switched it wouldn’t have been such a big deal.

I don’t know. I’m not there. In all likelihood, neither are you.

But this is the internet, and on the slightest rumor everyone gets their undies in a wad and goes ballistic.

This seems to happen at every major Pagan event lately. A rumor flies out, someone corrects it or adds nuance and context, and people continue to go apeshit.

This has happened twice at PantheaCon so far. It’s getting old.

So far the only reports to emerge from Pagan Spirit Gathering have been calm and even called for people to remain calm. I’ve heard no reports of hate speech and a lot of reports of deep discussion and support. Yet already I’ve heard PSG and it’s staff reviled and called bigots.

It’s really easy to sit back and comment on a situation you know little about, at an event you have never attended. It’s easy to rant on the internet: I do it all the time.

I’ve attended both PSG and Pcon. They are wonderful, diverse events that have a lot to offer the Pagan community. The staff are amazing people and I’ve never witnessed any discrimination at either event (but then you won’t find me hanging out where the bigots might be). In fact, at PSG the community is so tight-knit and compassionate that I’m pretty certain this has been resolved and the person who experienced discrimination is feeling nothing but love right now. If PSG is anything, it’s a place where you feel safe, accepted and loved.

That said, the Dianic ritual was a pretty bonehead move on their part. I can see that they were trying to give options for everyone, but this was destined to go badly. I’m sure they will learn from it.

I have attended exactly one gender exclusive ritual in my life. I skip them now. They aren’t worth my time to protest when there are so many other great things to be celebrating. I am notorious for skipping festival programming I’m not interested in. Next PantheaCon the one thing I’m really looking forward to is participating in Ekklesia Antinoou events and hanging out with those folks. I won’t even bother to read the descriptions for the gender-specific events. I certainly won’t waste my breath protesting a ritual I find unappealing.

Had I been at PSG this year, and I wish I could have gone, I would have skipped the Dianic ritual in favor of hanging out with friends around a fire. I would have excluded the ritual from my life. If we all exclude the rituals that discriminate from our lives then their attendance dwindles and more inclusive rituals prosper.

People who espouse such venom over people and events they have no connection to disturb me. People who treat groups like Ekklesia Antinoou as “alternative” rather than as facilitators of some of the most satisfying and creative rituals you will ever participate in, regardless of who you are, really cheese my grits. I prefer the “alternative” ritual. I don’t waste my time with the “mainstream” exclusivity.

I prefer to celebrate those who create amazing, meaningful, and inclusive ritual, and honor those who give those creators space at large events. Both Pagan Spirit Gathering and PantheaCon give people space to walk their path in whatever way they see fit. Their commitment to diversity inspires me, even when it doesn’t work quite right. I’m glad that they give people I dislike and disagree with space to do their thing. I could seriously make a horrendously long list of the things at both festivals I won’t attend, ranging from mild disinterest to utter revulsion.

Thank goodness I don’t have to like everyone. I don’t have to approve of everyone. I don’t have to insist everyone conform to my worldview.

I can walk on by, ignore the crap out of them, and go focus on the things that I believe make our community great.

So if you go to either of these festivals you will likely find me skipping a lot of programming to hang with people I think are awesome. Quite a few of them are GLBTQI. Some are specifically transgender. I’ll be ignoring the hell out of people who host gender specific rituals or who engage in hate speech or who discriminate against others for anything beyond character. I like to think I’ll be hanging out with the brightest, funniest, most creative people at these festivals. I know I always have a great time.

And everyone throwing a hissy fit and engaging in hate speech against either transgender people or event organizers who commit to diversity, I will aid my ignoring of you by blocking you on social media and unsubscribing from your blog.

We talk a lot about tolerance but we mean acceptance. Well I don’t have to accept everything. I don’t have to accept bigots, haters or white chocolate. But I can tolerate them. I like tolerance. Tolerance means I will ignore the crap out of you, say what I think of you, but I won’t stand in your way (unless you’re standing in mine). I’ve got better things to do.

If you are at PantheaCon next year, and Ekklesia Antinoou hosts another fully inclusive ritual, I suggest you join me in participating in it. I had a fantastic time there and I’m really looking forward to participating in it again. You can go protest whoever is shooting their mouth off with hateful nonsense if you want to, but I’ve got better things to do.

So this is my last cis-privilege post on this issue. I’m not touching it again. It’s a free country. You can exclude who you like. I’m not wasting my time on you anymore. I’m going to ignore the crap out of you. The people who give you space at these large diverse events also give space to things I love. I am serenely going to embrace those events that align with my values and ignore the crap out of those that don’t. I’m going to recognize that making space for diversity is an act of tolerance, not acceptance, and I can tolerate that without accepting every bit of that diversity. I’m not going to make it my business to block other people in their spiritual path, even when I think they are ignorant and hateful, because I have too much to do in tending my own path.

Most of all, I’m not going to get in a tizzy over things that happen at events where I am not present and I do not possess all the facts, and I am not going to waste my time with those who do.

Next Friday I’ll post a listing of fully inclusive events on this blog. If you have a class, seminar, panel, presentation, ritual, or festival that doesn’t exclude anyone based on anything other than whether or not they are a person of good character, let me know. This includes transgender or GLBTQI events that are open to cis-gender and straight people. I’ll try to make this a regular feature on the blog, to promote events that are fully inclusive, including those taking place at diverse festivals and conferences such as PSG or PCon. Maybe the difference I can make is increasing turnout for fully inclusive programming. That sits better with me than going ballistic or protesting.

About Star Foster

Polytheistic Wiccan initiated into the Ravenwood tradition, she has many opinions. Some of them are actually useful.


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