[Trigger warning: homophobia, transphobia]

Around every Coming-Out Day (whether as LGBT+, Pagan, or otherwise) you get posts from people urging closeted folks to come out and live publicly as LGBT+/Pagan/[insert other here], which is not, in and of itself, a bad thing. The more people who are “out”, the more visible a group becomes, and the harder it is for society to ignore them.

That said, closet-shaming, don’t do it.

I think the people who (inadvertently or no) try to pressure folks to come out want the same kind of thing I do: greater visibility, a show of solidarity with other like folks, and also, it can be stressful living in the closet, coming out of the closet takes a weight off the chest and lets you breathe. The choice to come out is a powerful act.

And the only person who is equipped to make that choice is the person in that closet.

I have two families, an adoptive family and a biological family, and I’m kind of out as a lesbian but closeted as a Pagan with one and completely closeted with the other. I came out to my mom whenever the last coming out day was, just a casual thing “Mom, do you know that I’m a lesbian?”

My mom’s response: “I don’t understand how you can be a lesbian if you haven’t tried boys yet.”

*deflates a little*

So, to say my a-mom is a bit confused on that front is an understatement, but one thing she definitely wouldn’t understand is my Paganism. She can’t wrap her head around the idea that anyone would embrace Pagan religions as a serious religion. No, she doesn’t give me the whole “devil worship” thing, she just thinks it’s “crap”.

Apart from lack of space, this is why I can’t set up any altars, because she will a) not stop touching them, and b) well, it’s all just “crap” to her, my feelings on the matter don’t matter.

But bio-family, bio-family is worse.

I’m not coming out as Pagan to them for the same reasons I don’t come out to my a-family, because they wouldn’t understand (even though my bio-mom is pretty irreligious). They know that I am uncomfortable discussing religious matters around them, and that’s that.

But there’s no fucking way I’m coming out to them as a lesbian, not now, not ever.

If you’ve been following my account of stupid things my biofamily has said since I’ve known them, you will know that they are quite blatantly racist and homophobic. In case you haven’t, here’s a recap [once again, this gets triggery]:

Stepdad wants a haircut, and the only hairdresser available is a trans woman, he freaks out, yelling that he doesn’t want a “faggot” cutting his hair.

While on vacation in Romania, stepdad and biomom notice a gay couple kissing. Disgusted, biomom says to me “I thought [stepdad] was going to go over there and slap them.”

You see, they have never heard of this thing called “none of your fucking business”.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to come out to the kind of people who would talk of assaulting others because of PDA, to say nothing of the awful homophobic and transphobic language they employ.

The thing is, I have it easy compared to some people. Nobody’s thrown me out of the house for coming out, some kids aren’t as lucky to have parents who are merely confuzzled by one’s sexual orientation (and don’t get me started on the kinky stuff).

In a perfect world, no one would have to live in any closets, , but this isn’t a perfect world, and as much as the closet is stifling, some of us need our closets. It’s not a matter of living in denial, it’s a matter of personal safety, of not losing a job, or custody of children, or any of the other shit various closeted people have to deal with.


Seriously, you may think you’re helping, but you’re not, pressuring someone to do something they aren’t ready to do isn’t a very nice thing to do, even if you do think it’s for their own good.

So don’t do it, and if you see someone else trying to shame someone into coming out of their closet, for the love of everything, call them out on their crap.

Please and thank you.


6 thoughts on “Closet-Shaming

  1. Thank you for sharing, it actually went with a convo I had with my brother.
    We were talking about homosexuality while watching Law and Order SVU(lesbians where bing attacked) and he told me about the last time he hung out with our cousin. They were joking about homosexuality with friend then he said he would’nt let any potential sons be around our cousin brcause he’s gay. Hw has no idea why our cousin was pissed and left. Strange how things connect.

  2. I was engaged in a similar conversation with P. Sufenas Virius Lupus on a post he wrote about “pseudonyms” and people outing him and his legal, professional name. We were all discussing that there are very good, not-cowardly reasons for having a spiritual/writing name, and keeping that separate from one’s secular, professional identity — the latter of which employers and Universities, etc., see and judge a person by.

    In Academia, for instance, (which I’m more than certain you’re aware of) it can be a serious black mark on a person to be a scholar and a Polytheist who actively believes in the religion(s) of the culture(s) one is studying. Which is stupid — I can’t even begin to tell you how many die-hard Christians there were in my Crusades History courses and courses on the Medieval Cult of Saints, and their beliefs were never considered detrimental to the discipline, to the field. Because I’m Polytheist, I was side-eyed in the courses I took on the origins and evolution of Modern Occult movements and Magic and Witchcraft in the Middle Ages. A few of my peers were aware of my religious orientation — some were cool about it, some were abrasive and needlessly grudging — and a couple of my professors were aware of my being Polytheist, though I had never told my professors personally. It was not a fun time, but at least my GPA wasn’t compromised for it. And this was in a “Liberal State” in the Northeast US, not a “right to work” State in the deep South/Bible Belt.

    Being “outed” can not only effect one’s prospects of employment, but one’s personal happiness (such as it is) and life.

    And this is to say nothing of what Polytheists/Pagans in the armed forces have to face in the event they’re “outed.” My husband is a Marine. He’s somewhat “out,” and subsequently deals with unnecessary flack from his fellow Marines for his Heathenry every now and again. It was a lot worse during boot camp, but things haven’t changed too much for him now that he’s deployed. Life in the Marine Corps is an entirely different world, replete with unusual cruelties of its own.

    People who out others are oblivious, methinks. They don’t understand what kind of jeopardy they’re putting others into by attempting to “out” them. Or worse, they’re entirely cognizant of what they’re doing, and WANT to put people in danger.

    1. I’m not sure who this was referring to, but I’ve heard things about Classics professors who “threw the barley” in private before Hellenismos was really a thing.

      In Religious Studies, the situation is a bit different (but I suspect this also has something to do with the fact that I live in Canada, where religion is more of a private matter than in the US and multiculturalism is a national policy). I knew vaguely that my profs. were different flavours of non-Christian, but there’s a half-truth in the department that the discipline “turns people into atheists” because of the way religious studies scholars don’t accept faith-based claims as having any bearing on their research. Granted, this was actually more of a problem for biblical literalists who aren’t used to having their religious text brought down to the same level as texts of “false religions” (which actually made it kind of refreshing in the way it challenged Christian privilege). I suppose I was very lucky in that respect, the very nature of my discipline squashed the more vocal Christians.

      Over here, people were taking courses on witchcraft and goddesses and such and no one really cared. I actually came out as Pagan to my classmates (maybe not the smartest decision in retrospect lol).

      As I said though, I expect much of my experience is coloured by this Canadian obsession with multiculturalism and interfaith things (despite what certain conservative ministers do) so being outed isn’t really as big a deal in school, but people do still tend to keep their faith private.

      Actually, I had a Buddhist professor from Tennessee, he kept forgetting that no, he really didn’t have to keep explaining things by way of biblical metaphors, because he wasn’t in the deep south.

  3. Hi, just stumbled upon this blogpost and decided to comment, mainly because the answer your mom gave you reminds me one my husband said.
    We were seeing some reality show (I forget which one, doesn’t matter) and there was this teenage girl that was telling the camera that she had a hard time finding a girlfriend, for some reason.
    Then my boyfriend says exactly! the same thing as your mom:”How can she know she’s a lesbian if she never tried boys?”
    (Cue facepalm and a look of “oh, no you didn’t.” from me)
    My answer followed: “How do you know you’re not gay if you never tried boys?”
    It was nice to see his face as he realized that he had just said something really wrong. He went still and said: “Oh, right. That was stupid.”

    1. See, I said that to my mom, and she just gave me this completely perplexed look. I have since realized that it’s useless to talk to my mom about stuff like this, because she just doesn’t get it.

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