I have to say Coming Out as a pagan was 2000% easier than Coming Out as gay, partly because the work had already been done and partly because the religion change wasn’t as big as internal deal with coming out as a lesbian.
I came out as a lesbian to myself and my friends in Sept of 1979 and it would have been earlier but for some events that threw me firmly back in the closet along the way. Part of this was that until the 1970’s no one talked about women being gay among anyone I knew, it was always about men so I didn’t know there was even an option. I just knew I liked girls and I had absolutely no interest in boys other than friends to climb trees with and throw dirt clods at.
My first crush was my first grade Sunday School teacher who sealed the deal when she found out my favourite story was “Greyfriar’s Bobby”. Disney had just made it into a movie and she knew one of the stars, Donald Crisp. She got him to autograph the record album and gave it to me. I still have it. That album sent me clear over the moon and the funny thing is I can’t even remember her name anymore.
When “Here Comes the Brides” were on TV I had a crush on one of the brides played by Bridget Hanley. My mom thought it was on Bobby Sherman so I ended up with a Bobby Sherman record that Christmas. I guess I had already learned to keep exactly who I was looking at a secret.
I remember telling my mom at age 9, the same year I first started pulling psychic shit that I was going to be the first Presbyterian nun because I wasn’t going to get married and I wanted to be a minister. I had a limited understanding at that point of nuns. I thought they were just Catholic ministers who happened to be women. My mom saw a lot wrong with this. I remember her even bringing up grandchildren and I told her then I wasn’t going to have them. The other thing she found wrong with it was the nun thing. I had a Great Great Aunt Annie who was the black sheep of the family for becoming a nun back in Canada and even moved to Quebec to do it from Toronto. Even when I was little the convent was still sending handmade lace every time they needed money. She had to be in her 90’s at that point because her only brother left had died at 92 not that long before I was born. I wish I knew what her nun name was. Anyway, I was already headed into no man’s land on two counts at that point.
I even wrote it in my plans when we had to write what we wanted to do when we were grown up. We had to write a sealed letter and give it to our parent’s to hold. I found it when we cleaned out the house when mom sold it. Pretty amusing. I was sort of right.
I did everything I could to avoid dating in high school. I even had one guy following me home at one point. I knew I didn’t want to date him and I wasn’t experienced enough to tell him go away. I think he finally got the hint at Christmas when he made me a lovely necklace from a tumbled white sapphire and I didn’t get him anything. The funny thing was he married a good high school friend and our 10 year reunion he hit on me again! With her standing there! I had short hair and a tuxedo on.
I got to college and joined a sorority that no longer exists and managed most of the time to get out of having a date for our events. I did end up going on two blind dates with the same guy. Both times backed into it by a pledge sister and couldn’t get out of it. Really nice but a geekier geek than even I was and I expect a very closeted gay guy. It was 1973, there weren’t many out people then. Several years later when I volunteered as a monitor for the AIDS quilt I found his square. I hadn’t known he was dead and I never knew he had come out. I hope he was happy. I finally went on a date with a guy from choir to see what the fuss was about. He kissed me, I kissed him back. Not terribly thrilling and he was a little pissed that I had kissed back? What the hell were you supposed to do be a wet fish on a wall? Anyway that was the last time I dated a guy. Thank heavens!
So I started to work at kids camps and started to have severe summer crushes. Some of the them probably never knew and one did and was horrified. It wasn’t until I got to Pines that the penny finally dropped. The first year I was there I was invited to a road party. You couldn’t drink in camp so on your night out you went up to the road to “watch the moon”. It was a road party for the dykes in camp and they had invited me. I didn’t figure this out until I was back in camp and realized an assumption had been made. Ooops! After that I didn’t get invited to too many road parties except by the horse and water women who were straight.
I was really starting to wonder about who and what I was by then but I was still struggling with all the Sunday School crap and indoctrination at that point so I couldn’t be gay. I really struggled with it a lot. I only knew one other person who was gay and that was Jim, one of the member’s of Mom’s Church Choir and later mine and I loved him dearly. He always challenged me to do knew and better art work and to stop using patterns when I made things. But always behind his back it was “poor Jim, he’s one of those unhappy homosexuals.” But he never seemed unhappy to me and he had the best sharp sense of humour of any one I knew growing up. So I was confused.
And then there was HG the second year of camp. She went around telling kids they were going to grow up to be gay. Not cool! She kissed me in front of the whole Dining Hall and I was horrified and went running to the Camp Director whose answer was less than helpful and she couldn’t see anything wrong with it. It shocked me right back to the back of the closet.
And then I took a group of kids backpacking that had just come back from a trip with HG. The entire trip was horror stories about HG’s behaviour some of which was abusive liked tossing the smallest kid into the stream on her head because she’d said, “O how gay!” Because of the Camp Director’s response to the first incident I went to talk to C the camp cook who was the source of all wisdom as far as I was concerned. She called the Council and HG ended up getting fired after they talked to me and the kids. Even though C and the Council person were gay I was the one blamed for HG getting fired and there were some people who never forgave me for that. But it was right and the proper thing to do at the time and I’d do it again to protect a child.