Nope, I don’t want to go back in

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Yesterday I realized I first came out of the closet 20 years ago. Actually, I came out of two of them.

I was 14 and starting high school. I’d just made a friend based on the giant pentacle necklace she’d been wearing, and our joking about coming out of various closets led me to going WELL, LET ME LEAP OUT OF BOTH AT THE SAME TIME (naked, covered in rainbow glitter).

Coming out as bisexual in the year 2000 in Maui, Hawai’i was interesting. Coming out as pagan in the year 2000 in Hawai’i was also interesting.

Maui in 2000 was half tropical Bible Belt, half Hippy Central. I dealt with so much evangelical, come-to-Jesus bullshit both as a bisexual and a then-Wiccan. I also was able to go to a local New Age store for crystals, the latest Silver RavenWolf book, or to have my aura read by a computer. (The early Aughts were fucking wild.)

And despite being told multiple times that my bisexuality would disappear like magic whenever I let Jesus into my heart (I guess he was going to make me horny for God AND dick, or something), I still made friends with other queer people. Mostly adults, because that was the truth of being a queer teenager in those days: most of your also-queer friends would be adults.

I decided early on I did not want to hide who I was. Honestly, I don’t know if I would have been able to. I have always had trouble not wearing my heart on my sleeve, not being unabashedly myself — even when it’s to my detriment.

So despite the loss of friendships and the fights it got me into, I unpacked my Freak Flag, unfurled it, and flew it at full mast for the next decade and a half.

Bisexual? No, surely not, no one was ALIVE then

I was so, so lucky with my family.

Sure, my father disbelieved me when I told him I was bisexual. Every time. I think he still doesn’t believe that I wanna kiss girls. I’ve told him hundreds of times now. No dice. It Can’t Be True.

But to his credit with the pagan side of things, he did buy me Uncle Bucky’s Big Blue Book, and despite the human sacrifice jokes he was pretty supportive of it.

My mom’s reaction was as follows:

Me: Mom, I'm bisexual.
Mom: cool.
Me: Mom, I'm a witch.
Mom: cool.

I mean, to be fair? The first thing changed absolutely nothing for her or me. I wasn’t dating anyone when I was a teen. When we spoke about it recently, she said “You were so responsible.” I said, “I think that’s a really nice way of saying ‘unfuckable’.”

The second just meant I wanted to go to Makawo to the new age shop more often, and she liked their stuff too. Mother-daughter shopping trip!

Not everyone can be as cool as my mom

I lucked out with family, but I’m still a bisexual living in a world that is hell-bent on bi-erasure and bi-phobia.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before — “you can’t be bisexual, you married a man.”

How about “Oh, honey, eventually you’ll choose a side”?

Or “OMG! Does this mean you’re going to hit on me now?”

Doesn’t really matter how many times these things are refuted, it seems. There are always assholes who will repeat them. And nowadays there seem to be just as many assholes within the community itself as there are without.

I used to find safety and solace and community within the queer community. I no longer do. My marrying a cishet man makes me a traitor at best or a straight woman at worst. I am neither cis nor het, but it doesn’t matter, because I pass as those things, and we know They are the enemy.

So at some point, I decided…fuck it. And I became closet-adjacent again.

I’m still out if it comes up — in safe company.

But otherwise, I let people assume I’m the cis het married lady they see. Because I’m tired, and I honestly have better things to do than constantly repairing a freak flag that gets torn in the weekly hurricanes it sees.

Besides. Being forced back to the bi-closet doesn’t hurt nearly so much as being forced back into the broom closet does.

Life is full of unexpected things

Four years ago my husband and I moved into a place where I knew I had to go back into the broom closet or it would be trouble. I was so, so right.

Not only have I feared actual mundane-world repercussions from being out as a witch in this place, but as time has gone on I’ve realized that the house spirit itself is not happy with my religious choices.

I won’t get into details here (if you want, you can read them at my witchcraft blog), but suffice it to say: my religious practices have petered out in the past several years, and my mental well-being has suffered.

Not only have my at-home practices petered out, but I’ve basically completely withdrawn from pagan religious life. The only religious life I’ve had has been, ironically, going to an Anglican church on a completely irregular basis — and it’s there that I’ve had the most contact with my gods while living in this place.

I know, right?

Back from the Mysteries with a pocketful of seeds

This Easter weekend was virtual Spring Mysteries Festival — an event that only happened because of the pandemic. Going virtual had never been on ATC’s radar before, for various reasons, probably the biggest being the completely shitty cellular service at Fort Flagler, where the physical event is held.

I had already reconciled myself to not going to SMF this year, even though I had planned on going and really wanted to go. I’d been absent for years for a couple of reasons, one of which was money, and it was money again that was making the physical pilgrimage an impossible dream.

Suddenly, with the switch to a virtual space, it became possible again. So I quickly registered, and tried to participate as much as I possibly could.

It was — obviously — not the same thing as the physical event. But gods, was it close. It made me realize how much I missed this — being pagan. Going to events. Doing ritual. Infusing my life with magic.

Being out of the broom closet.

My head is full of ideas after the Mysteries. I feel like I’ve waked up from a long sleep. I’ve come back from the underworld.

Was I ever really back in?

If you know me, you’re probably surprised to hear me refer to the past four years as being back in the broom closet.

No, I didn’t suddenly leap to the back of it, denying all pagan ties and telling people I was something else now. I wasn’t far enough in that would suffice in a more dangerous environment than liberal Vancouver.

But I was in, for me. I was hiding. I have been keeping my religion hidden for several years, and not working hard enough to practice in secret. I just…shut off.

Now that I’ve stepped out again, felt the sun on my face, I don’t want to go back to where I was a few months ago.

I also don’t want to be complicated anymore. So often my identities get relentlessly complicated, requiring words upon words of explanation.

Tired of that.

I’m Katje. I’m bisexual. I’m genderfluid. I’m a witch.

No, I won’t be taking any questions.

Thank you for coming to my Ted talk.

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