by Sammy Conde
I still remember walking the halls of my middle school wondering if other people knew. I wasn’t sure if they could tell that I was attracted to men and I was worried more than ever that if they knew they wouldn’t think of me the same. You see, growing up in the Bible Belt as a fundamentalist Christian at the age of 12 can be confusing for someone who is also finding out they experience “same-sex attraction” as it was often put at that time. I battled with whether or not the Christian God would love me and tried to hide who I was until I couldn’t anymore.
An old friend of mine from choir made me feel welcome at my school and she was always kind to me. She uplifted and welcomed me in a warm and affirming way and I felt like I could trust her with anything. So, I told her I was bisexual. At the time, she was the only person other than me who knew. We talked about other friends she had who were queer and she made me feel normal.
Many people would think that for the LGBTQIA+ community this kind of coming out would snowball, I’d have told my parents, and then I’d be out of the closet.
This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Witches understand this on an intimate level. Much like the “broom closet” the closet for LGBTQIA+ folk is ever evolving and ever changing. We must choose those with whom we have enough comfort to share who we are. We have to be selective because someone might reject us or even attempt to cause some kind of harm to us. There are people who would rather see us harmed than know our full selves. Still, so many live authentically and proudly out in the open.
With each space we must decide how open we can be about who we are, who we love, and how we worship. Each space requires new and ongoing evaluation to see which parts of us are safe to share. Three steps forward. Two steps backward. I can share my new understanding of my evolving gender with this friend. I cannot share my sexuality with that person.
Much like the spiral journey we revisit the same theme from new angles each time.
How welcome am I in this space? How do I understand myself? How can I best communicate how I understand myself with others? Will I be rejected for who I am? Will someone try to convert me? Am I in danger if I share this part of myself?
Yet, there is a pride in the process. Finding those who love us and building spaces in which we can live authentically as witches and as queer folk allows us the ultimate power of freedom. Reexamining our understanding of ourselves, the world around us, and our relationships with others helps us to have a healthier understanding of how we operate in the world. Sharing that with others and living authentically in it lets us live lives of joy and passion. It challenges us to be real in a world that wants us to hide. As you take that spiral journey, revisiting these themes, remember Goddess loves you and no one can take that from you.
Sammy Conde is a Dedicant of the Keepers of the Flame WISE ATC Coven, a member of the Ever Green Hearth, and a Student at Woolston-Steen Theological Seminary.
The Ever Green Hearth is proudly inclusive and accepting of all sexualities and Gender Identities