Do you have to be a freak to be a Pagan?
Probably the worst aspect of Pagan and Heathen communities is the reactionary mentality- it can be to one extreme or the other- Saying “everyone must be as mainstream or normal as possible” is wrong but so is “everyone must be artsy/alternative-y” etc. Be yourself and do what fits with your personality, values, interests etc. Now we can be honest and say, that some choices we make can get more or less social approval points depending on what setting we are in. I think the problem sometimes people aren’t honest about that- for example, it actually can take a fair amount of privilege, access to certain information, money or simply living in a liberal area to participate in some “alternative” subcultures- being able to be openly Pagan/polytheist/heathen, openly polyamorous/kinky, being able to pursue an artistic, academic or activist-based lifestyle or career (yes, many people who are artists and activists by vocation are low-income, but they often have good social networks & access to resources that make their poverty suck less than do less bohemian poor people.) Some professional type jobs allow more personal freedom of expression, others do not. People of color and/or low-income/working class folks who make “alternative-y” lifestyle choices of various kinds often have to take on more risks to their personal safety, discrimination and so forth.
This is an old post, in internet-time at least, and I intended to comment on it sooner, but then decided not to, but then I keep thinking about it.
One of the first posts on the Gods and Radicals blog was “Respectability Politics: Act Like The System so that The System Will Listen?” That spawned a lot of “Yeah! Let your freak flag fly! We don’t need to be respectable!” type responses.
This is a problem that I’ve run into before in Pagan circles, so I’m sure it will come up again.
Shucks, it’s a problem I ran into in middle school! In my middle school, the “cool kids” were the freaks. They did drugs, rode skateboards, dressed like Kurt Cobain, listened to grunge music (though some of them were “goths” instead and listened Korn and Marilyn Manson), had tattoos and piercings, had sex, made bad grades, and got in…
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