Thursday, July 03, 2008

Come join us on the dark Pagan side...

Last Saturday was the official Houston GLBT Pride Festival and Parade, and... I missed it. Again. But at least this year, I have a better excuse than my standard "It's too hot and it lasts too long and I don't want to go."

My dad had ankle surgery a week ago, so I've been helping my mom take care of him at their place while he convalesces. Which translates to watching TV while he reads detective novels, competing in best-three-out-of-five backgammon tournaments against him (I'm the current reigning champeen), and occasionally draining the semi-coagulated blood from the stint coming out of his leg.

I've had worse jobs.

Since I don't have any good tales to share from this year's festivities, here's something that happened to my pal Georges last year. It was a couple of hours before the parade, and George was moseying about, watching the various participants getting their floats ready for showtime, when he came upon the GLBT Pagans.

"Wow, great costumes!" he said. And while I don't know what the costumes were, I have no doubt they were great: a natural cynic though I may be, putting the words "gay," "pagan" and "parade" together can do nothing but result in fabulous couture.

"Thanks!" the GLBT Pagans said. "You should come to one of our meetings!"

"Actually, I'm Lutheran," Georges said. "But I do appreciate the invitation. And again, great costumes!"

"Jesus was a Pagan," one of them said. And according to Georges, they all took a step towards him.

"Um... no, Jesus was Jewish," Georges responded, starting to get nervous.

"You should come to one of our meetings!" another one of the advancing Pagans repeated.

And then Georges screamed and ran away. Which, in some social situations, would be considered a faux pas. But considering the circumstances, it was an entirely appropriate response.

Since then, Georges has often referred to the "scary, Evangelical Pagans," and while I can't fault him for feeling that way, I don't think it was their intent to recruit. Rather, I think they were--in a fucked-up, misguided way--trying to be inclusive.

On its own, inclusivity is most definitely a good thing. But, like anything else, it can be taken too far. "We're here if you need us," or "You're always welcome here," is wonderful. "You're one of us, whether you want to be or not," is, as Georges pointed out, scary.

My long-suffering life partner has to deal with this issue a lot more often than I do, since, as the spouse of a Pagan, he's expected to be Pagan, too. Now, honestly, Jack would make an amazing Witch and would be a natural at this stuff... except for that little technicality of him not being Pagan, and not having any interest whatsoever in becoming one. But every time I attend a Pagan pub moot, I end up in the following conversation:

The Pagans - "Hi Evn! Where's Jack?"

Me - "Oh, he didn't want to come."

The Pagans - "Why not?"

Me - "Because he's not Pagan."

The Pagans - "But he could have come. We like him, and we want him here."

Me - "Yes, but this is a Pagan get-together, where we're going to talk about Paganism, and how Pagan we are, and he's not Pagan, so he wasn't interested in coming."

The Pagans - "Well, he still should be here."

Me - "But he's not."

The Pagans - "But he should be."

Me - "No, he should not be."

The Pagans - "He should come to one of our meetings!"

Guys, seriously, regardless of whatever Pagan practices were assimilated into Christianity, regardless of what Dion Fortune may have said about all Gods being one God, regardless of how much we may want everyone to find a loving and accepting place in our Circles...



If we keep this in mind, and we let people do their own thing while asserting our right to do our own thing, then we're far less likely to evolve into a Pre-Christian-inspired equivalent of the Southern Baptist Convention.


Meredydd said...

ooooooooooooooh I think I know those people, lol. Kinda makes me wonder if I'm going to have to drink the Kool Aide sometimes!

Evn said...

LOL Nah, just come drinking with me instead. I spike my Kool-Aid.

But not with rum. (grin)

Anonymous said...

My teenager asked me if we could go to the local Pride festival. Last year, there were 70,000 people in attendance. I told her that I would rather spend my day getting hit on the noggin than in the middle of a crowd that size. ::shudders with crowd claustrophobia:: She went with a friend's family instead.

And hubby has had a fair share of 'well, your wife is Pagan, why aren't you?' remarks. It's just as annoying coming from our side as it is coming from the other side.

Anne Johnson said...

We at "The Gods Are Bored" do not support active recruitment for any religion. People will find their way where they want to be. Great post, Evn. Makes me wonder what you'd write if you went to the parade ... I'll wait a year to find out!

Yvonne said...

That is quite a worrying story, actually. Though at least they didn't try to tell him that Luther was a Pagan, lol.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you that these folks were probably quite well-meaning. I'm not sure that fact makes it any less creepy for Goerges, though.

Heck, I'm Pagan and I'd still have been creeped out.

And that whole "Jesus was Pagan" thing gets on my nerves.

Lisa Adams said...

*sigh* I swear the more "inclusive" the local group tries to get the more I start imagining the exact same thoughts. *sigh* They do remind me of the Southern Baptist convention sometimes.