Just over 20 Pagans attended the local Pagan Coming Out Day celebration at Sacred Paths Center on Monday, May 2nd. The celebration started with a libation and prayer to Hestia, strengthener of family and community bonds, for those Pagans in our community planning to ‘come out’ to someone they know. Champagne cocktails and desserts then followed with a screening of the documentary American Mystic. “Speaking as someone who was there, and has been semi-closeted for 35 years, this was simply fabulous,” said Karen. The movie, which was signed by director Alex Mar, was donated to the Sacred Paths Center library.
International Pagan Coming Out Day Chair, Cara Schulz, spoke to the group about Pagan Coming Out Day and how it was impacting Pagans around the world. “We have received messages from Pagans in the US, Canada, Russia, France, Columbia, South Africa, and the Philippines to name a few countries. Very positive stories about the events they are holding, about coming out to friends and family, and about how the religious community has supported them,” said Ms. Schulz.
Ms. Schulz estimates that hundreds of Pagans told someone they know they are Pagan on May 2nd and many more indicated they are considering it after hearing about the mostly positive outcomes on the organization’s facebook page. Others simply decided they would stop hiding their religion and would speak the truth when asked. Thousands of more ‘out’ Pagans wore something that identified them as Pagan as they went about their normal business as a low key way to push back against stereotypes and show our numbers. As a sign of how popular the day was, just under 300 t-shirts with the IPCOD logo were purchased in the last 3 months. “I think it was being able to marshal the support of the community that gave the strength, comfort, and encouragement needed for people to take this step. Plus the excellent Guide to Coming Out put together by IPCOD committee member Drake Spaeth, PsyD, gave people tips on how to actually have this conversation, said Ms Schulz. “It’s one thing to say “come on out!” – but it’s another to say this is how you can do it and we’re right here with you to support you.”
In addition, at least seventeen Pagans asked their employers if they could take time off for their holy days. Twelve reported back that they were successful. IPCOD has created a guide for HR managers and it is being tested with ten HR managers now before general release. The guide will help employers understand and manage the needs that Pagans employees may have and includes information on holidays and topics such as religious body modification and how that interacts with company dress codes.
The Minnesota event was just one of many events held around the country. Other events included an English High Tea in New Mexico, an evening at a Pub in Georgia, and a rally on the White House lawn in Washington DC.
Pagan Coming Out Day is a yearly event designed to “to achieve greater acceptance and equity for Pagans at home, at work, and in every community.” For more information on IPCOD,please see their website. The focus of the committee in the first year was raising general awareness and developing the basic resources. It attracted some very big name supporters, such as T Thorn Coyle, Phaedra, Christian Day, Selena Fox, Ivo Dominguez Jr., and Star Foster. Pagan media, like the Proud Pagan Podcasters, Witches & Pagans magazine, SageWoman magazine, The Wild Hunt, and The Witches Voice threw in their support for the initiative.
Ms. Schulz said the committee is already considering how to improve IPCOD for next May 2nd, “While this year was more successful than than we thought it would be, there are so many more resources we want to have in place for next year and there are certainly ways we can improve. But my biggest hope for the future is that we won’t need an organization like Pagan Coming Out Day because Pagans will no longer feel they need to hide their religion out of fear.”