Why this term, the Broom Closet? Usually this term is used to state that the Pagan in question has decided to keep the fact that they are Pagan from families and friends. While it seems that there has been progress made in terms of acceptance for the LBGT community. However, it is not exactly an accepting community that welcomes a person who appears to consort with dark and negative energies that can harm anyone.
It is more difficult that anyone can imagine to be rejected and torn away from family, and have to restart all over. Or, if the Pagan was young, the family can force the Pagan to renounce their faith, and abuse them. With those who decide not to divulge the information, they sometimes assume other names and have to assume online identities that is not connected with their true identity. During festivals members indicate whether or not they want their pictures taken and put on the internet in some fashion. There can be a lot of accidental outing of a Pagan during these times, so if and when you visit a Pagan festival, please keep in mind that the pictures you subsequently post to your friends on Facebook can make it around to others you have just friended, and your pictures show up on their non-magical facebook feeds, and accidentally out them to people they would rather not inform of their current faith.
It is very bad form to out another Pagan. At this time I have fifty percent of my friends who have come out to their family, mostly in the last year, and fifty who are NOT out. Recently my coven had conflict with a specific person, who had found us through a profile that we had set up to login to various pages. A member of our coven panicked badly, as she believed that if that person could accidentally find us, then members of her extended family in the south could find her, and then she would have a terrible time of it. To top it all off, she was in the middle of a personal crisis, and she really hates conflict. So the three stressful items on her plate, plus the thought of being outed to her family almost caused a meltdown of epic proportions. Being estranged form her only blood family would have caused a rift in our group that may not have been repairable, and at best, left a strain on our relationship with each other.
As for my experiences, I came out fairly quickly. There are two trains of thought regarding this. Either I am too cocky for my own good, and being bold thus far has not taught me the meaning of good common sense or caution; or that I have a lot of self confidence, healthy boundaries, and firmly believe that I will not be taken advantage of, abused, or used, and I will put someone in their place should they decide to do any of that. So far my experience has been the latter. Has it caused some weirdness with some of my relationships, sure! Have I been preached to? Yup. But I refuse to Christian Bash, as they have the same rights to free speech and freedom of religion as I do, and the same right to respect by me as I have the same right to respect from them. Whatever they say behind my back has stayed there, and I do not worry my brain cells over their discomfort or pettiness. Honestly, I have had more trouble with those from my own religion than Christians. Someone I was very close to had an utter breakdown because she believed that my daughter threw black magic at her heart and almost caused a heart attack. This occurred only months after I figured out that the Goddess had spoken to my heart and I was likely on this path for a good minute of my life. What the hell was I supposed to do??? ACCKKK! So I lied. She wanted my daughter’s magic bound, so I lied and said it was, and I had done it that day. The catch to this had me realizing I was being manipulated. This friend then told me that my daughter had some deep emotional issues that my daughter was trying to escape, and shed some of it off on her. But don’t worry, this friend of mine knew Reiki, and could cleanse and heal my daughter. That was the beginning of my divorce from a good friend. I, being me, let her know where to take that and shove it, and then disentangled myself from her forever. I did lose a friend, sort of, from it, but I am a healthier and happier person for it. Had I not, I would have had some very deep anxiety and issues from the relationship that would have prevented me from growing spiritually.
But enough of that. Due to the current social climate that is brewing within the US, the Pagan community does not feel as safe to come out of the Broom Closet, as other groups with just as much stigma or negativity directed toward them. We applaud and completely understand the Gay and Lesbian community, and understand the lesson of needing, at some point in our lives, to be open about our faith, and to take on the battle of those who would rather do some horribly nasty things to us due to their religious dictates. I do understand that not all Abrahamic faiths believe that they should commit physical harm or atrocities, but there are enough of those denominations out there that will encourage their congregation to illegally act against Pagans, either overtly, or underhandedly. We are very cognizant of that, and would rather gently integrate into the community rather than be confrontational.
While many who read this will be a little incredulous to my claims of the need to be under the radar, but if you google witchcraft, you will find a plethora of religious websites devoted to discouraging interested individuals from involving themselves, or being curious about the Pagan faith. Worse, if you google witchcraft and Africa, Saudi Arabia, India, South America, or other foreign third world countries, there is a deep and abiding hatred and fear of those who perform witchcraft, and you will read on those who cut up and cook albino Africans for witchcraft practices, or stone and murder in the most horrendous ways women suspected of performing witchcraft. This may seem very difficult to believe, or understand, but missionaries who go to these countries to bring the cultures into Christianity have done this, and the Christian home base in the US or a first world country may condemn the practices, but I can guarantee you that this is discussed, as local indigenous practices that do not align with Christian faith and practices are condemned as being witchcraft and evil, and must be burned or destroyed, often in violent means. Being in a first world country only protects Pagans due to the established laws, and the willingness of some of the people to enforce the laws. Recently there was a Florida, USA killing of a person, and the local sheriff went on to national media to inform the public that it was a ritualistic Wiccan and Pagan murder that was a standard practice of the Pagan faith.