May 2 has been declared “International Pagan Coming Out Day” by a group working to raise awareness and acceptance of Pagans. There are lots of pros and cons to this. Hecate has already covered some of them in her excellent post, including how getting more people to come out is not necessarily going to make being out easier. For now, I’d like to point out a technology that helps me stay in the closet sometimes, and why I appreciate it.
My Kindle has been a fabulous thing on many levels. One of the nice things about it, though, is that it doesn’t advertise what I’m reading. There’s no cover image, no big-print title in dayglo orange about Tarot or Witchcraft or anything else. People around me on the Metro, in a waiting room, or at the gym have no idea whether I’m reading a steamy romance novel, the latest analysis of stocks and bonds, a Bible, a Koran, a Book of Shadows, or anything else. I really like that. I don’t feel a need to advertise what I’m reading, and I feel more comfortable being insulated from the stares, attitudes, and judgments of others based on what I’m reading.
Once, I met a local Wiccan for coffee, and he showed me what he’d just been reading in one of Israel Regardie’s books. He gestured to the brown paper wrapper he’d put over the cover and called it his “Metro-safe” book cover. I know exactly what he means.
I don’t regard this as some kind of unjust imposition on my freedoms. This is practicality; if I walk around with a book about Tarot, people are going to have reactions to that. Even in public, where their reactions shouldn’t really matter (or they should keep it to themselves), sometimes I just don’t want to put up with the stares. This isn’t unreasonable oppression, this is normal human interaction. It’s also practicality on my part. I can wish the world were different, and more accepting of non-mainstream religions, and I can even work to make it so, but I only have so much energy to do that work. Sometimes I choose to spend that energy on something for myself, rather than on the kind of conversation that gets struck up on the Metro over a book on Tarot or Witchcraft.
I’m trying to say that each of us has his or her own comfort level of “outness,” for very good reasons, and that we need to recognize those gradations and support each other. Supporting people who want to make the move to be more out is great, but I don’t think it’s the only solution. I’m pretty out, but sometimes, I’m happy being in the closet with my Kindle.