It’s a sad fact that there are a few Pagans among us who have to hide their beliefs because it could cause them to lose a job or they feel their religion might be used against them in a custody battle, or an assortment of other legitimate reasons. Before the explosion of Paganism into the public realm in the 1980s this wasn’t really an issue because most covens were kept secret and there was little public information about Paganism or Witchcraft. Since that time, the term “broom closet” (borrowed from the LGBT community’s term) has grown in use. It contrasts those of us who do not hide our Pagan beliefs (“out of the broom closet”) versus those who do (still “in the broom closet”). As more and more of us stopped hiding our beliefs (which is not at all the same as advertising them), this term became more and more common.
As a Community, we have been very respectful of those who are “in the broom closet”. We ban cameras at events, we hold events that are closed to the public, and often go so far as to keep secret the location of events, even from participants, until the last moment. Much of this is a holdover from the days when Paganism was hidden. It is also a legacy of basic practices of many covens, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that we have simply incorporated this idea of “hiding in plain sight” into almost everything we do in some Communities. I think it’s time for a new dialog around this issue.