Born from a time when we had no rights, a day to be open and honest about who we are. Be it in regard to faith, gender identity, sexuality, gender, race, or any other cause for which we will stand with one another, loud and proud, in defiance of retribution. Willing to risk it all for a voice.
Pagan Pride was born in 1992, with events springing up since all over the Nation. They centered around the idea of educating the public about who we are, what we believe, and how we live. In this instance, Pagan, being an umbrella term, encompassed the many faiths that fall outside of the social norm (or more specifically, the Judeo-Christian worldview).
It's been only a few years that I've been out of the broom closet (well, I have a foot poking out at least) after practicing Craft since my youth. I still recall my restrained excitement about attending my first Pagan Pride three years ago in Belmont, NC. It was wonderful, at times silly, but felt true to itself. I made new friends (some, of great future significance.), and had a blast checking out all the wares of my new pagan friends. Since then, I've changed a lot. Grown as a witch. I have a presence in the community, students of my own, and a sense of duty to my people.
I was asked to attend Piedmont Pagan Pride in Belmont NC this year with an information booth for my group, and as time passed I was asked to speak on the interfaith panel. I was happy to represent British Traditional Craft, and to give a voice to what I love. We prepared, my students and I, to be a part of the days festivities.
But I learned that there was something dark lurking underneath. Hidden. Swept under the rug. Deemed unimportant. As a compromise to the city, in order to hold the event at Kevin Loftin Riverfront Park - all reference to religion, to faith, must be removed (a rule applied to all faith groups apparently, the city has not responded to my request for information.). Perhaps I'd never have discovered this if not for offering to teach a workshop and having it censored before I'd even emailed a description... but it's out now, and I'm left wondering why we're doing this.
"Pagan Pride" makes a statement.
It says "this is who we are, this is what we believe, and we're proud of it."
It hearkens back to those early days of activism for outcast groups of all kinds, to compromise... flies in the face of why we do this. This is about being proud of who and what we are, not about bending the knee to Parks and Rec for the sake of a public location. When we do that, it sends a different message.
One of shame.
Are we ashamed? Are we afraid of the world? And if it isn't about faith, what is it about? I'll tell you what it becomes, Pagan Pride then becomes about placation. About saying that we aren't scary and that the majority still gets to make the rules for us.
A Pride day should be about how our beliefs influence and affect our lives - and we should project that voice into the world without fear. When we diminish ourselves, we diminish others. If we won't stand loud and proud for this, how can we expect that those who come after us will be treated? Would we want LGBTQ groups to have to compromise what they are for a patch of grass to speak on? Women's rights? What else will we give to those who have no space in their hearts for us?
I say - no more.
For these reasons I will not be at Piedmont Pagan Pride.
I will not speak on an interfaith panel that can't say it's about faith.
I will not lend my power to something that hurts and harms.
I will not be silenced -
I am a Pagan -
And I will be Proud.