It’s rather apropos that my Musing/Microblog Monday post was about Raymond Buckland (who is considered the first person in the US to openly admit being Pagan), and today’s is all about being loud, proud, and Pagan.
I first heard about Pagan Pride Day being held in September a number of years ago (in fact, I believe it was back in the dark, murky days before Facebook). It wasn’t until I did some research for this post that I discovered there’s a larger, Pagan Pride Project. For 2015, the time frame designated for Pagans to officially celebrate their pride is from August 1st, to October 31st. This blurb from their page gives a little backstory on the idea –
Nobody really knows who first used the term “Pagan Pride”. In name, it owes its origins to the Gay Pride movement, and certainly it is a term that reaches far beyond any single organization. It cannot be copyrighted; the founders have always felt it would be a breach of honor and decency to copyright it. There are rumors of single, local events using the name of Pagan Pride as early as 1992, though no documentation of these events has been found. We can, however, safely identify and document the first organized movement to support and encourage public celebrations of Pagan Pride in communities all over the world — the Pagan Pride Project.
The history of the Pagan Pride Project starts with Cecylyna Brightsword’s — now Cecylyna Dewr — participation in the Pagan Awareness League, or PAL, the organizaiton founded after the Witches’ League for Public Awareness eliminated their state representative program in 1997. During her time as a member of PAL, Cecylyna proposed a formal program to the PAL membership and director to facilitate celebrations of Pagan Pride on a local level to be called Pagan Pride Day.
From the beginning, Cecylyna’s vision of what Pagan Pride Day should be included several departures from the celebrations common to the Pagan community. Her proposal included the central core of what has become the Pagan Pride Project, three elements designed to increase community good will and public relations towards Paganism: a public ritual or celebration open to Pagans, non-Pagans, passersby, and onlookers; press releases and public relations activities designed to encourage positive media portrayal of Pagans and Paganism; and a food and materials drive for a local charity, food bank, shelter, or refuge, to symbolize both Pagan responsibilities to their town, city, or state and in honor of the various Thanksgiving holidays common to most Pagan traditions held around Fall Equinox. While many Pagan Pride Day celebrations have included more than this, every celebration ever held as a part of the Pagan Pride Project has included at least two, if not all, of these elements. (Two of the celebrations in 1998 were food drives only.) ~ Dagonet Dewr, Pagan Pride Project
One of the reasons I love living in New England is that it’s relatively Pagan/Wiccan/Witchy friendly, but I’ve still encountered people who see me, a run-of-the-mill suburban housewife who happens to wear a pentacle, then run to the other side of the street while crossing themselves. Or who leave a community I’m a part of, specifically because I’m a witch. Over the years I’ve
mostly stopped having temper tantrums when it happens learned to not take it personally, and try instead to be the best representative of my faith I can be when I’m in public, even if I’m not wearing witchy things.
One of these days, I hope to organize some kind of Pagan Pride event in my area (the current location of the SNHPPD is a bit of a hike for me, even if they were holding an event this year, which they’re not). Until then, I think I’ll be more proactive – for example, I’ll put together a donation for our local food pantry, and add a note on the bag that says something to the effect of, “Donated in the name of Pagan Pride Day (www.paganpride.org).” Oh, and now that the weather (in theory) is about to turn cooler, I’ll make more crocheted facecloths, and donate them to the local shelter with a similar note. And maybe some day, when I’m helping an elderly woman put her groceries on the conveyor belt, the reaction won’t be, “What a nice Christian girl!” or “What a nice Wiccan girl!” and it will simply be, “What a nice girl!”
Feel free to shout out in the comments if you have suggestions for other ways of giving back to the community in the name of Pagan Pride!