Let's talk about the “broom closet.” Many of you might be familiar with the term “coming out of the closet” in relation to the LGBT community, but many witches/Pagans utilize the “broom closet” as a term when noting that they are not “out” about their religious affairs. Some people are content to stay that way, some aren’t.
Regardless of what you’re doing I want to make a note that you should never out someone that is still in the closet. They are closeted for their reasons. You would think people would have common decency, but alas, disclaimers still live strong.
Now, if you’re like me and are firmly out of the closet, you may wonder why anyone would have reason to hide who they are - aren’t they proud of themselves?! Don’t they want to claim their POWER?
Well, there are a variety of reasons including: personal safety concerns, child support issues, worry over job loss, and loss of customer base, to name a few. One of my good friends ran her own business and many of her clients were very conservative and she most definitely would have lost business if these people knew that she was a witch. It’s crappy, it is, but there are people that don’t understand, don’t want to understand and would much rather egg your business store front instead of being reasonable.
Even though we are constantly making strides here in the United States, there are still areas that are not open and free in regards to religion. (Looking at you Bible Belt.) Sure, we can legally practice whatever we want, but there would be real consequences for many Pagans in this country if the wrong people ever found out about their private doings, and being out and loud, and proud isn’t worth personal safety. Those big pentagram necklaces just aren’t worth it.
Ok, so now we know why people sometimes need to be in the closet. So, what should you do if you’re ever outed against your will?
If someone has outed you, and they are a friend, I’d have a word with them. Explain why you’re in the closet if you think it’ll help them understand the situation, but know you never have to explain yourself. If it progresses so that you face job loss, look at your local laws. I’m pretty sure there will be something about religious discrimination and see if you can find a Pagan lawyer if need be (yes, they’re out there!)
Also know that if you’re going in for a job interview it is against the law (in the states) for them to ask about religion – if they do ask simply decline saying you prefer to keep personal business and work separate.
I hope this cleared up any questions that anyone had on the term “broom closet” and now understands why it exists.