The Outsider Inside

This is about self-representation.

Who’s out of the closet, as it were? It seems that I know quite a few Pagans who nonchalantly wear their pentagrams or Mjolnirs on the daily. At events there’s usually the disclaimer to “let us know if you don’t want your picture taken,” and one or two people sometimes speak up, but for most people I know it seems to be not that big a deal.

I’m out more and more these days. I like to say that my religion isn’t a secret, I just don’t really advertise. My one piece of overtly religious jewelery is an unassuming pendant of an Egyptian god, which most people tend to mistake as various things (I think I got “a guy on a skateboard” once–who knows), but even people who recognize it don’t seem to make the leap. That said, most of the people I work with know and it doesn’t seem to bother them (yesterday at work: “Hey, Juliana, do you know any spells for, like, getting out keys that are stuck in locks?”), and the people I’m closest with at school know. It’s come up, tangentially, with my advisor, but knowing him if I told him point blank tomorrow he’d be completely surprised, and then possibly forget again by Monday.

Besides with family, the place I’m most reticent about my religion is in academia, and generally to people who outrank me. I have literally described myself as “non-Abrahamic” as an oblique telling-but-not-telling, “Those with ears, let them hear,” sort of admission. Even though I’m always looking for a way to skirt the issue if I feel the need, I won’t lie about it; I certainly won’t say I’m Christian (though I’m sure people often assume it and I don’t do much to correct them if it doesn’t come up), but I also won’t go with the “nonreligious” escape. Because I am religious. I’m quite religious–moreso than some of the people who are going to graduate from this place with the words “Master of Divinity” after their names. And let’s just all bask in the hubris of that title, shall we, particularly coming from Christians. Not that mine will be much less ridiculous: I kind of hate philosophy most of the time, so I’m not really going to be the top choice of doctor when they need it resuscitated.


I’ll be here all night, folks.

It’s a tricky place to live, figuratively speaking. I go to the Pagan Conference in Claremont, and I see all of these awesome scholars who are also Pagan and just… put their names on stuff like, “I don’t care if you google me. Do it,” and it makes me think that I’m being ridiculous and paranoid, and then shit like this goes down and I go triple-check my Facebook privacy settings, just in case, even though I don’t post much overtly religious stuff on Facebook, anyway. Because at the end of the day I study Christianity, and when I get hired (I’m optimistic–don’t judge) it’ll be to teach the New Testament, and even though I won’t even be applying at any school that requires a faith statement, the confused look on people’s faces now when they figure out that I do that and also actively circle at CUUPs tells me that maybe it isn’t something I want hiring committees knowing about, nondiscrimination clauses or not.

It’s about safety, really. Where I am currently–geographically, temporally, socially, whatever else-ally–is a very safe place for Pagans, and I know both that I’m lucky to be here and that in a few years, one job offer could put me somewhere completely different. Which is to say, my safety is not guaranteed to last, and I don’t know how much I should be worried about that future.

So, tell me, are you out? Are you safe? Always? Sometimes? Do you pick and choose who gets to know, or do you wear it on your sleeve and let the haters hate?

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