Coming out of the broom closet the first time was easy. I was a sophomore in college, young, brazen, and drunk off my newfound independence. I didn’t worry about harassment or discrimination. As a young, black, woman I ate that kind of stuff for breakfast and was genuinely unafraid. Of course, I had little to lose back then – no professional affiliations, no job that couldn’t easily be replaced, and my familial relationships were tenuous at best. Things have changed over the years and I have experienced the fear and pain of being harassed on the job. I have been told I am going to hell by my supervisor. I have been asked if my religion is “official” by human resources. And I’ve seen the apprehension and confusion in co-workers’ eyes as my pentagram fell out of my shirt. So I have learned to play it cautious and feel out my environment before I decide when and how to come out.
Tomorrow I begin my first day as an elementary school teacher and I haven’t decided what to do about coming out of the broom closet. If it were only staff and students I had to worry about I wouldn’t hesitate to wear my pentagram tomorrow, but I’ll have to deal with parents too and parents can be tricky. I know from working at the school for the past two years, that many of our students and their parents share a very strong and traditional Christian leaning. I’m not sure how parents will react if they see a pentagram dangling from the neck of their child’s teacher. Will they freak out? Make accusations? Ask embarrassing questions? Assume I worship the devil? Any and all are definite possibilities.
Up until now I have chosen to keep my religious practices separate from my job while working at this school. However, things feel different now. I am taking on a full-time position and will be engaging with more students and more staff. To keep this part of myself completely hidden would feel like a lie. I don’t plan to shout about Witchcraft from the rafters, but I want to feel comfortable wearing my pentagram. I wear it everywhere else. Why should I be barred from wearing it to work?
It’s all so complicated. Sometimes I wish for the blind privileges afforded practitioners of the Christian faith. To go where I want, wear what I want, and say what I want about my faith without contemplating thoughts of discrimination. Knowing that I will have time off of work for my most important religious holidays because they are nationally recognized. To comfortably assume that everyone in the room accepts my faith and is probably a member of the same. To enjoy such privileges would be bliss, but that’s not the world we live in. At some point I’m going to have to make a decision – to proudly open the closet door and risk persecution or to continue to peak through the crack, hiding who I am.