The more I think about it, the more I like this idea — and additionally, the more I can see certain parallels with the GBLT Rights movements.
For those unfamiliar, the GBLT Right MovementS has historically been (and in many ways, still is) pretty far from a single unified movement — and the divisions are more numerous than some may think. Some of the most apparent divisions can be generalised as two ideals(1):
- “We may be ‘queer’, but we’re as normal as you are!”
- “We’re Queer! We’re here! Get used to it! (And fuck you!)”
Basically, a lot of tension amongst the Queer community can be boiled down to between those who want Acceptance and those who will Tolerance as long as their civil rights aren’t trampled on.
I’m seeing a lot of similar ideas bandied about in the threads I’ve read about International Pagan Coming Out Day (IPCOD, for short). I will say, I’m seeing a scant minority of people in the “Pro” arguments talking about genuine acceptance, but most seem pretty content with tolerance — conversely, I’d say most of the “Con” arguments are from those who believe that they already have tolerance, and I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that maybe they live in a town where they genuinely do, so that would mean that the civil rights and liberties that they are privileged enough to take for granted are something that many pagans elsewhere simply don’t have, and may never have until they are willing to come out, take a stand, and fight for it. Basically, the “Con” arguments are from people who, as one might say to a similar mind-set in the TS/TG community, “are letting their privilege show” — this is not a good thing, it’s a sign that, well, you’ve got yours and fuck everybody else, especially those who have to fight for the tiniest scrap of dignity you get to take for granted.
As much as I’d really like to say that I expect better from my co-religionists and those of other pagan and polytheist religions, the reality is that I’ve come to know this mega-community as very human, and humans are flawed creatures. Some humans can’t see past the end of their noses, and in doing so, assume that their rights and liberties are guaranteed to everybody, even when confronted with evidence that such simply isn’t the case.
As I pointed out in my previous post on this topic, in the United $tates and even some other countries, “freedom of religion” is little more than theory. Job and housing discrimination are hard enough to prove in places where it’s still allowed for certain reasons, much less in places where employers and landlords have to get creative about why they’ve coincidentally terminated your employment shortly after you requested Beltane or the Dionysia off, or why you’ve suddenly gotten an eviction notice the month after apartment maintenance came to fix the air ducts in the spare room you use for ritual. In theory, courts aren’t allowed to discriminate against religious choices in divorces that involve a child custody battle, but the fact that I’ve at least been conscious of North Amerika’s pagan community since the early 1990s and that I’m still hearing about the occasional mother deemed “unfit” coincidentally after her ex-husband brought up her Eclectic Wicca group in court is evidence that it’s obviously going to take at least another twenty years to get to a point where that’s not going to matter much, if at all. There is still a distinct cultural favouritism of Abrahamic religionists in North Amerika and elsewhere that ends up getting its inequality onto the legal system that promises freedom and justice for all.
As a Hellenic polytheist, I understand that the situation with religious freedom in modern Hellas is far worse than most Amerikans and Britons can even begin to fathom — to the extent that some people believe that you are socially better off to closet yourself as an “Atheist” than be honest about being a Polytheist, and that this hasn’t gotten better in a significantly noticeable way since joining the European Union finally, in 2006, stripped Hellas of her legal criminalisation of worshipping the ancient gods and goddesses. If for no other reason, THIS is why this needs to be an International event — not just for the United $tates, or North Amerika, or the Western Hemisphere, or the Anglosphere, but for all nations where religious civil rights and liberties get little more than lip-service, at best.
(1) This means I understand there are more complexities within this very generalised divide, but in my personal opinion, the majority of skirmishes in the GBLT communities can be boiled down as between two very different ideals for the movement.