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Author Topic: Living out of the Broom Closet  (Read 3538 times)

NightQueen

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Living out of the Broom Closet
« on: August 21, 2014, 08:31:29 am »
I'm not sure this is the correct area for this, but it seemed the most appropriate to me.

I work nights in a hospital and some nights are very busy but some nights are not and I usually bring a book to read if I have downtime.  Last night I started to grab one of my books on magic to bring with me and then stopped.  I'm not out of the broom closet at work and I wondered what people would say if they saw me reading it and how I would respond if asked about it.

My problem is I live in a moderately conservative area (upstate New York) and I know most of my co-workers are Christian, specifically Catholic.  The hospital I work in is a Catholic one.  At least one of them is a extremely right wing, tea-party, ultra conservative and I can't imagine what she would say.  The rest fall on a continuum between my uber liberal views and her conservative ones, most of them falling slightly to the right.  Now I count most of these people as good friends even though I don't agree with their political views and I honestly don't know how they would react if they knew I was pagan or that I cast spells in my spare time.

Now the people that I work with know that even though I was raised Catholic, I no longer attend mass.  But I image that they do think I still basically believe what Catholicism teaches.  This was probably reinforced by my mother's Catholic funeral that most of them attended, but my mom was Catholic and I wanted to give her the funeral that reflected her beliefs, not mine.  I almost said something the other night when the topic of marriage and whether one would be willing to marry outside their faith came up.  One of the girls was surprised that I would have no problem marrying outside my religion.  I almost said, "I would almost have to because I don't currently know any male pagans in real life," but I bit my tongue.

I was wondering if anyone here, lives out of the broom closet, so to speak?  I'm especially interested if you're out at work and how people reacted to you?  Were you out when you started there or did you come out while you were working?  Did you suffer any discrimination?  Where I work is very gossipy and I don't care to be the topic of everyone's conversation.  I also don't really want to hide who I am.  I'm not really planning on saying anything anytime soon, but I was just curious to get everyone's thoughts.

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Re: Living out of the Broom Closet
« Reply #1 on: August 21, 2014, 09:16:47 am »
Quote from: NightQueen;156788
I'm not out of the broom closet at work and I wondered what people would say if they saw me reading it and how I would respond if asked about it.


A tip on reading at work/in public/anywhere would be to use a kindle. I have most of my books on spirituality, magic, etc. on my kindle since it allows for a good deal of privacy (no book covers! you can password protect it!). As I'm slowly inching my way out of the broom closet, more and more physical pagan books are working their way onto my shelves at home, but I would still never bring them to work since my boss is very conservative and an evangelical Christian (converted from Catholicism).


Quote from: NightQueen;156788
I was wondering if anyone here, lives out of the broom closet, so to speak?  I'm especially interested if you're out at work and how people reacted to you?  Were you out when you started there or did you come out while you were working?  Did you suffer any discrimination?  Where I work is very gossipy and I don't care to be the topic of everyone's conversation.  I also don't really want to hide who I am.  I'm not really planning on saying anything anytime soon, but I was just curious to get everyone's thoughts.


I'm partially out. I don't hide the fact that I'm not Christian, even at work, but I still tend to tell people I'm agnostic (which is technically true, since I don't really *know*) or still seeking rather than pagan if they ask, unless I'm sure they're not going to have a conniption. Because ain't nobody got time for that.

Depending on that person's level of open-mindedness, I may tell them I'm just pagan, explaining I feel spiritually connected out in nature and meditating (this is the soft version), or if they're more curious/receptive/I know them better, I will go ahead and say I practice a form of Neo-Druidry. I'm usually willing to answer questions if they're genuinely curious. However, I do not ever discuss my personal relationship with deity, specifically the Morrigan, with anyone outside of these forums- even my closest friends or partner of many years. For some reason, it's just the line I draw. Maybe it's too personal and something I just prefer to keep for myself. It's also probably because I'm still trying to figure it out.

As for the discrimination question, I feel as though I would be discriminated against at work if I were to come out fully, and at the moment it's not worth the risk of my livelihood. But in general I'm hesitant to talk about my personal beliefs since I'm so paranoid about coming across as pushing them on others (by-product of growing up in the small-town American South, I'm sure). My mother was also unhappy with my choice of spirituality when I told her, which is ironic since she actually encouraged it when I was younger (bought me books on it, etc.), but as she's become more entrenched in her Christianity over the years, she's become less accepting of it. She wouldn't punish me for it or anything, I just know it makes her uncomfortable.
Other people whom I've told in my family are fine with it, though again, I don't tell everyone, especially unless I'm specifically pressed on the issue.

My partner is still getting used to the idea of it. He's atheist/agnostic but has a general disdain for all religion, mostly because he thinks of all religion as equating to conservative/evangelical Christianity. He doesn't interfere though and gives me my space for my altar/incense/books/etc. I can tell he's actually getting more curious about it and is itching to ask questions, but still can't bring himself to bring it up with me. XD  He saw me talking in the MUX chat the other night and peeked over, joking (in a good-natured way) that I was "talking with those warlock friends again".
Though honestly it was very stressful in the beginning when I realized I was becoming serious about my spirituality and he was the person whose reaction I was worried about the most, more than any family/friends, so it took me a long while to be comfortable being honest with him about why I suddenly was buying tons of incense, candles, and meditating all the time. It's definitely gotten better with time and by me being more open and straightforward with him when he does get the courage to ask questions.

I would definitely say that if you think your coworkers or boss would not be understanding and accepting of your spirituality, then it's probably best for now to not bring it up. There's often a groundwork that has to be laid for people to get past their own biases and preconceptions on what paganism actually is (you know, instead of what they've seen in movies), so if you really feel you must come out with them, it's probably best to do it gradually over time instead of just being all "hey I'm a witch!" or "I do witchcraft!" since many terms can be loaded and trigger a kneejerk negative reaction.

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Re: Living out of the Broom Closet
« Reply #2 on: August 21, 2014, 12:55:04 pm »
Quote from: NightQueen;156788

I was wondering if anyone here, lives out of the broom closet, so to speak?  I'm especially interested if you're out at work and how people reacted to you?  Were you out when you started there or did you come out while you were working?  Did you suffer any discrimination?  

 
There's two pieces here, for anyone who also works with the public, or a larger community: there are interactions with your coworkers (who will get to know you over time) but there are also interactions with people who may see you only briefly, but who still need to rely on you for things at a vulnerable time in their life.

Libraries have less in the way of vulnerable health crises, but this is a topic I think about a lot, because I want all the students I work with to feel comfortable approaching me as a librarian, not just the ones who agree with my particular views of the world.

And some of the people I am providing service to have been and are and will be people who find my religion upsetting, discomforting, or wrong, because we have a wide range of 'public' out there.

I also had a situation at a previous job where outing myself as Pagan may have contributed to things at that job going badly. The thing about knowledge is that you can't take back people having it.

Anyway. My default these days is that I avoid obvious signs of religion at work - that means visible religious jewelry that's obviously Pagan (I do wear things that are personally meaningful to me), and I also avoid reading material that might be particularly obvious. E-readers and ebooks, of course, make some of that much easier.

With co-workers, it varies. At this stage in my life, I'll tell people I see outside of work, but I'm defaulting to not telling people I work with otherwise, unless it actually comes up and I feel like I'd be lying to them by not telling them.

I'd also note that there are differences between a place where you see the same people most days (and they get to know you in a variety of ways) and a place where you're working with different people each shift (don't know which way your health care setting is working, but.)

One of the things I think really hard about with work place settings is "Do I want to have this keep coming up as a topic of conversation, and possibly distracting me from the work I'm supposed to be doing" - because even if people are welcoming and curious, that's a distraction in some ways, where someone saying "I'm Catholic" in a place where that's common probably isn't.

There are ways to handle this (starting with "Hey, if you want to talk about this, how about over coffee/in the staff room, when we can talk without needing to focus on work?") but thinking through the implications in advance saves a lot of fuss later.
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Re: Living out of the Broom Closet
« Reply #3 on: August 21, 2014, 01:55:39 pm »
Quote from: NightQueen;156788
I'm not sure this is the correct area for this, but it seemed the most appropriate to me.

I work nights in a hospital and some nights are very busy but some nights are not and I usually bring a book to read if I have downtime.  Last night I started to grab one of my books on magic to bring with me and then stopped.  I'm not out of the broom closet at work and I wondered what people would say if they saw me reading it and how I would respond if asked about it.

My problem is I live in a moderately conservative area (upstate New York) and I know most of my co-workers are Christian, specifically Catholic.  The hospital I work in is a Catholic one.  At least one of them is a extremely right wing, tea-party, ultra conservative and I can't imagine what she would say.  The rest fall on a continuum between my uber liberal views and her conservative ones, most of them falling slightly to the right.  Now I count most of these people as good friends even though I don't agree with their political views and I honestly don't know how they would react if they knew I was pagan or that I cast spells in my spare time.

Now the people that I work with know that even though I was raised Catholic, I no longer attend mass.  But I image that they do think I still basically believe what Catholicism teaches.  This was probably reinforced by my mother's Catholic funeral that most of them attended, but my mom was Catholic and I wanted to give her the funeral that reflected her beliefs, not mine.  I almost said something the other night when the topic of marriage and whether one would be willing to marry outside their faith came up.  One of the girls was surprised that I would have no problem marrying outside my religion.  I almost said, "I would almost have to because I don't currently know any male pagans in real life," but I bit my tongue.

I was wondering if anyone here, lives out of the broom closet, so to speak?  I'm especially interested if you're out at work and how people reacted to you?  Were you out when you started there or did you come out while you were working?  Did you suffer any discrimination?  Where I work is very gossipy and I don't care to be the topic of everyone's conversation.  I also don't really want to hide who I am.  I'm not really planning on saying anything anytime soon, but I was just curious to get everyone's thoughts.

 
I've read a few pagan books at work and got the typical "Whatcha reading response" and the look when they see the title. I generally just say that I am doing a study on comparative religions. This response has prompted an interested response on more than one occasion. If they directly ask if you believe in what you are reading, maybe just brush it off with a "its an interesting read". You don't HAVE to explain that you're a pagan. Since it sounds like you have a Catholic background you can always throw in some interesting similarities and differences you have found in your reading.

Kindle/ebooks also get my vote to avoid any conversation.

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Re: Living out of the Broom Closet
« Reply #4 on: August 21, 2014, 05:21:18 pm »
Quote from: NightQueen;156788




I was wondering if anyone here, lives out of the broom closet, so to speak?  I'm especially interested if you're out at work and how people reacted to you?  Were you out when you started there or did you come out while you were working?  Did you suffer any discrimination?  Where I work is very gossipy and I don't care to be the topic of everyone's conversation.  I also don't really want to hide who I am.  I'm not really planning on saying anything anytime soon, but I was just curious to get everyone's thoughts.


I'm pretty much out - at least I was in my last job. I have just started a new one and I've been pretty circumspect so far but after 2 weeks I'm slowly reverting to my normal persona. I've just switched my Amazon deliveries to my work address so they are going to spot my reading matter pretty quickly and I'm expecting 10 skull candles to be delivered there tomorrow.

NightQueen

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Re: Living out of the Broom Closet
« Reply #5 on: August 21, 2014, 08:47:28 pm »
Quote from: Jenett;156836
There's two pieces here, for anyone who also works with the public, or a larger community: there are interactions with your coworkers (who will get to know you over time) but there are also interactions with people who may see you only briefly, but who still need to rely on you for things at a vulnerable time in their life.

And some of the people I am providing service to have been and are and will be people who find my religion upsetting, discomforting, or wrong, because we have a wide range of 'public' out there.


I would never ever bring up religion with a patient.  I don't think it would be appropriate for me to do so really, no matter what my religion was.  We had a particularly religious (Christian) co-worker once who would tell patients all the time that she was praying for them and even brought in prayer cards for a few of them.  I found it to be highly inappropriate.

Quote from:
I also had a situation at a previous job where outing myself as Pagan may have contributed to things at that job going badly. The thing about knowledge is that you can't take back people having it.


That's exactly what I'm afraid of.  I don't fear loosing my job.  To be honest I don't think my actual boss would care if she found out I ritually sacrificed puppies and kittens on the weekends as long as I came to work on time.  What I do fear is the range of reactions from everyone else I have to work with on a daily basis.  Some I think would be cool with it.  Others would think I'm kind of crazy but not say much.  Others would probably think I was going to hell, and may or may not try to "save" me.  And I know there would be a few, "Here comes Ryan, the witch," hee hee, "I'd better shut up or she'll cast a spell on me," hee hee.

Quote from:
Anyway. My default these days is that I avoid obvious signs of religion at work - that means visible religious jewelry that's obviously Pagan (I do wear things that are personally meaningful to me), and I also avoid reading material that might be particularly obvious. E-readers and ebooks, of course, make some of that much easier.

With co-workers, it varies. At this stage in my life, I'll tell people I see outside of work, but I'm defaulting to not telling people I work with otherwise, unless it actually comes up and I feel like I'd be lying to them by not telling them.


I actually do have an e-reader I just like physical books for texts that I might use as reference later.  I find it easier to mark and highlight things in a "real" book.  Perhaps that just makes me weird.  In any case it's not crucial that I can read pagan books at work it was just something that happened that sparked a thought.

As far as only telling certain co-workers, that's not really an option.  Like I said, my workplace is gossipy.  If I tell one person, everyone will know.  To put it this way, a co-worker once asked me what I was doing on my night off, I told her I had a date.  By the end of the night everyone in three units plus my supervisor was telling me to have a good time on my date.  If I told anyone I'd pretty much be guaranteeing that everyone would know.  

Quote from:
I'd also note that there are differences between a place where you see the same people most days (and they get to know you in a variety of ways) and a place where you're working with different people each shift (don't know which way your health care setting is working, but.)

One of the things I think really hard about with work place settings is "Do I want to have this keep coming up as a topic of conversation, and possibly distracting me from the work I'm supposed to be doing" - because even if people are welcoming and curious, that's a distraction in some ways, where someone saying "I'm Catholic" in a place where that's common probably isn't.

There are ways to handle this (starting with "Hey, if you want to talk about this, how about over coffee/in the staff room, when we can talk without needing to focus on work?") but thinking through the implications in advance saves a lot of fuss later.


We all work rotating days but we all work together frequently and get to know each other pretty well.  We all tend to go out hang out with each other outside of work.  Like I said, quite a few of them I consider good friends.  It's a small hospital, which is what contributes to the gossip I think.

Because I consider most of the friends is the only reason I consider coming out, if I didn't I don't think the thought would cross my mind.  I just don't really like the idea of lying to my friends either by commission or omission.  I really don't plan on doing anything anytime soon anyway.  It was just a thought that was kicking around my head last night.  I appreciate everyone's input.

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Re: Living out of the Broom Closet
« Reply #6 on: August 21, 2014, 09:04:56 pm »
Quote from: NightQueen;156887
I would never ever bring up religion with a patient.  I don't think it would be appropriate for me to do so really, no matter what my religion was.  We had a particularly religious (Christian) co-worker once who would tell patients all the time that she was praying for them and even brought in prayer cards for a few of them.  I found it to be highly inappropriate.


My point was, though, even if you don't tell a patient directly (and I agree, that's inappropriate as a general rule), if you're doing things like reading a visible book in a public space (like the desk), a patient's family might see it and comment on it, or if you tell co-workers, they might say something where a patient could hear. Which is just a good reason to be more cautious rather than less.

Quote

Because I consider most of the friends is the only reason I consider coming out, if I didn't I don't think the thought would cross my mind.  I just don't really like the idea of lying to my friends either by commission or omission.  I really don't plan on doing anything anytime soon anyway.  It was just a thought that was kicking around my head last night.  I appreciate everyone's input.

 
Yeah, at that point, you're pretty much stuck at 'tell everyone' or 'tell no one' and given the other aspects (patients, families, care, whether it would be something that would get in the way of work because other people are stupid about it) I think you're mostly stuck with 'no one'.
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Re: Living out of the Broom Closet
« Reply #7 on: August 23, 2014, 03:17:40 am »
Quote from: NightQueen;156788
I was wondering if anyone here, lives out of the broom closet, so to speak?  I'm especially interested if you're out at work and how people reacted to you?  Were you out when you started there or did you come out while you were working?  Did you suffer any discrimination?  Where I work is very gossipy and I don't care to be the topic of everyone's conversation.  I also don't really want to hide who I am.  I'm not really planning on saying anything anytime soon, but I was just curious to get everyone's thoughts.

I do, to a certain extent. I generally don't answer inquiries into my faith by people I don't trust with the full details, because I just think being asked by anyone other than a family member or a very dear friend is incredibly rude. That said, I do not hide my interests or my religion, and I am definitely not allowed to hide my relationship with Benzaiten-sama.

It's not as hard for me as for a lot of other people here on the site, since even though I self-identify as pagan, that part comes after a couple of other labels. Thus, if someone sees me perusing a book on Wicca (because, hey, I find it interesting!) and asks "are you a witch?" I can honestly say to them, "no, I just find it a fascinating religion." Likewise, if asked "which church do you go to?" I can tell them "Oh, I'm interested in Buddhism, but thank you for asking."
« Last Edit: August 23, 2014, 03:18:23 am by Redfaery »
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Re: Living out of the Broom Closet
« Reply #8 on: August 24, 2014, 11:11:54 am »
Quote from: NightQueen;156788
I'm not sure this is the correct area for this, but it seemed the most appropriate to me.

I work nights in a hospital and some nights are very busy but some nights are not and I usually bring a book to read if I have downtime.  Last night I started to grab one of my books on magic to bring with me and then stopped.  I'm not out of the broom closet at work and I wondered what people would say if they saw me reading it and how I would respond if asked about it.

My problem is I live in a moderately conservative area (upstate New York) and I know most of my co-workers are Christian, specifically Catholic.  The hospital I work in is a Catholic one.  At least one of them is a extremely right wing, tea-party, ultra conservative and I can't imagine what she would say.  The rest fall on a continuum between my uber liberal views and her conservative ones, most of them falling slightly to the right.  Now I count most of these people as good friends even though I don't agree with their political views and I honestly don't know how they would react if they knew I was pagan or that I cast spells in my spare time.

Now the people that I work with know that even though I was raised Catholic, I no longer attend mass.  But I image that they do think I still basically believe what Catholicism teaches.  This was probably reinforced by my mother's Catholic funeral that most of them attended, but my mom was Catholic and I wanted to give her the funeral that reflected her beliefs, not mine.  I almost said something the other night when the topic of marriage and whether one would be willing to marry outside their faith came up.  One of the girls was surprised that I would have no problem marrying outside my religion.  I almost said, "I would almost have to because I don't currently know any male pagans in real life," but I bit my tongue.

I was wondering if anyone here, lives out of the broom closet, so to speak?  I'm especially interested if you're out at work and how people reacted to you?  Were you out when you started there or did you come out while you were working?  Did you suffer any discrimination?  Where I work is very gossipy and I don't care to be the topic of everyone's conversation.  I also don't really want to hide who I am.  I'm not really planning on saying anything anytime soon, but I was just curious to get everyone's thoughts.

 
I am out at work. For the most part, my co-workers don't care. I work with mostly Catholics (I was raised Roman Catholic in a heavily Catholic area), some Baptists, some misc. Christians, and a couple of athiests. The reactions varied wildly, really, to those who know about it. Not everyone at work knows because there's no reason for them to, but sometimes religion comes up during conversation. Especially since quite a few of the girls I know at work are getting married soon(ish).

It varied from "what? That's so weird. You don't REALLY believe in that, do you?" to "Oh, okay," to "Oh! That's so cool!". For the most part, most of them didn't really ever talk about it again. The ones who do are generally very respectful about it.

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Re: Living out of the Broom Closet
« Reply #9 on: August 24, 2014, 02:35:23 pm »
Quote from: NightQueen;156788
I was wondering if anyone here, lives out of the broom closet, so to speak?  I'm especially interested if you're out at work and how people reacted to you?  Were you out when you started there or did you come out while you were working?  Did you suffer any discrimination?  Where I work is very gossipy and I don't care to be the topic of everyone's conversation.  I also don't really want to hide who I am.  I'm not really planning on saying anything anytime soon, but I was just curious to get everyone's thoughts.


Quote from: NightQueen;156887
What I do fear is the range of reactions from everyone else I have to work with on a daily basis.  Some I think would be cool with it.  Others would think I'm kind of crazy but not say much.  Others would probably think I was going to hell, and may or may not try to "save" me.  And I know there would be a few, "Here comes Ryan, the witch," hee hee, "I'd better shut up or she'll cast a spell on me," hee hee.

 
I'm out pretty much everywhere, to everyone.  I typically don't wear any jewelry or other physically identifying objects, though I have some planned tattoos that will be fairly obvious.  I work in healthcare, but I work in a lab setting, where I don't have to see patients or any real non-industry professionals.

If you don't want people to talk about it, at least for a little while, so that you're a major topic of conversation, I wouldn't tell everyone or those you think will gossip.  It'll come up, even if it's not "bad" or negative, even if no one talks to you about it directly.

I imagine some of my coworkers do talk about it without my knowledge?  In the very beginning, I had one very religious coworker work extra hard at making sure I knew what she thought about my life choices and where they led, though all things considered she was more polite than not.  Mostly now those who feel that way are very respectful and say very little about it, and I don't talk to them very in-depth about things.

My other coworkers ask me lots of questions about practices and beliefs, and in fact I've done readings (rune, oracle, tarot) for about half my coworkers whenever they ask me to do so.

My experience is to trust your instincts about who you can be more open with and who you can't.  My opinion is that what you read in the break-room or away from patients, etc. is something that you can tell people to back off of or choose to engage in as you choose.  But nothing will stop it from being a topic of conversation period, if that's what you're worried about?  My experience is just that such topics taper off, and a well placed "I appreciate that you feel you must tell me _____, but please respect that I need you to stop now" usually does the trick for the rest of it.
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Re: Living out of the Broom Closet
« Reply #10 on: August 30, 2014, 09:31:53 pm »
Quote from: NightQueen;156788
I was wondering if anyone here, lives out of the broom closet, so to speak?  I'm especially interested if you're out at work and how people reacted to you?  Were you out when you started there or did you come out while you were working?  Did you suffer any discrimination?  Where I work is very gossipy and I don't care to be the topic of everyone's conversation.  I also don't really want to hide who I am.  I'm not really planning on saying anything anytime soon, but I was just curious to get everyone's thoughts.


I'm still very much in the broom closet. Or tool shed, considering I self-identify as heathen. I'm out to 2 friends and I'm sure my family has spotted the books by now. But I live in an area where attending the "wrong" church can make finding a job difficult so I refrian from being out at work. I had a co-worker today ask me to attend his church and look a bit concerned when I said, "No thanks, I don't think they welcome my kind there." I can't say I'm not Christian at work because well, I like my job and I'm already pushing every other boundary (work in an almost exclusively male position, youngest person by 25 years in the company, not toeing the "work comes before everything" line that seems to be the mentality there).

I'd love to be out. It would make it so much easier but considering I live in an area where even though I'm a member of the local United Church I face discrimination on a daily basis, I'm not going to risk it. Maybe someday I can afford to move to the more liberal north. It's safer for me to let people assume I'm a non-practicing Christian than it is to admit I'm a heathen who dabbles into witchcraft.

Hopefully someday I can move out of the Dutch Christian zone and come out slowly. I have a gorgeous simple Triple Moon pendant I really want to wear but haven't found the courage yet.
Jinx or Jinxy :)
Add a dash of folklore, a few centuries of farmer\'s blood and mix well.
[/B]

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