Full disclosure: I am on the executive committee for IPCOD so I have some bias. Arthur is also a dear friend of mine so I am grateful to him for helping me promote the Pagan Coming Out Day Mission.
You may have heard the buzz. International Pagan Coming Out Day, spearheaded by PNC political blogger Cara Schulz, is May 2, 2011. I wanted help spread the word far and wide, but it felt disingenuous for me to promote a cause I am so passionate about here on The Juggler without a pop-culture tie in with which to do so. Enter musician Arthur Hinds. You might know him best from the band Emerald Rose. Arthur is also a solo musician and released an album titled “Poetry of Wonder” in 2008. The album features empowering Pagan themes including the songs “Circle of Love”, “Never Underestimate” and “Pantheon”. Arthur kindly agreed to answer a few questions in regards to International Pagan Coming Out day and so I am pleased to share that exchange with you here at The Juggler.
PNC: Poetry of Wonder has a lot of very pagan themes. Since you are clearly “out” as a musician are there any aspects of your life that you would rather keep religion out of?
Arthur: Well you are right, I am currently very out as a musician, but in every way actually. Anyone who spends 5 minutes on the Internet will know who I am, and what I believe. My religion is fully integrated into my life; there are no aspects of my life that faith does not take part in. Almost everything I do is moved by it. That doesn’t mean that I stick my faith out there in people faces, but it does mean it is central to my being.
PNC: What do you think of having a formalized Pagan Coming Out day?
Arthur: The idea of a formalized pagan coming out day I think I has two edges. First of all, I hope that, for many people, it may give them strength or the moment to speak of who they are. I also hope that they have the wisdom not to speak it where it doesn’t belong. I do not believe in rubbing it in people’s faces anymore that I enjoy having another faith splashed in mine. I also hope that eventually the purpose for the day will simply fade away entirely and Pagans need not feel imprisoned by the secrecy they fear is necessary.
PNC: Do you plan to honor May 2nd as Pagan Coming out day this year and if so, how?
Arthur: I am looking to release a new song in honor of the day. It is about the path of being Pagan.
PNC: I reserve the right to review your new song for the Juggler upon its release. I am so excited that you are doing that!
For some people, coming out is a very definitive moment in their lives. For others, it is simply organic. Would you be willing to share your “coming out” story? I know you were raised Unitarian Universalist, so I imagine you had a higher level of religious freedom growing up than many others experience.
Arthur: Well, as you say, I was raised Unitarian Universalist. I was taught that there are many paths up the mountain to God. I was also taught how to find what I believe, so coming out to my parents was nowhere near as difficult as a great many folks find it. Because I was raised UU, I have never really had a chip on my shoulder about Christianity, and that makes my integration into the larger religious world, I think, less difficult.
In truth, there are many “coming out” experiences. I never go out of my way to “preach,” but just in conversation, questions will come up. I never dodge issues when asked, but always answer them truthfully, so there are sometimes difficult moments. I would be lying to you, if I said I never get a tingling or lump in my stomach in those encounters.
But, these moments gift me with a wonderful chance to calm fear and educate. Fear is our enemy, not the people who are afflicted with it. How can we expect the uniformed or misinformed to understand? Also, often a seeker discovers themselves at such a time.
PNC: What lessons have you learned over the years being a prominent Pagan musician?
Arthur: As I have traveled and shared songs and danced and played with Pagan musicians specifically, but with Pagans generally, I have learned that indeed there are many paths up the mountain to Goddess/God. I have learned that there is a constantly expanding course of ways to learn, and new/old mysteries to explore. I am in awe of the great diversity of power and creativity that we as Pagans generate. I am proud to wear that label “Pagan Musician.”
PNC: If there is one piece of advice you can give to someone who is currently on the fence about opening up to a loved one, what would that be?
Arthur: In many a vision, there is written over the portal to advancement, “Know thyself.” I would suggest anyone who is contemplating coming out to a loved one to examine why they want to. Will good come of it? Do you really need to tell your 83 year old grandmother who you are sure would be horrified?
Once you are sure that is it the right time to explain your path, I vote for slow and gentle faith comparisons one on one. Announcing at the Christmas dinner table, “Hey Y’all I’m Witch” would not be the path of wisdom in my opinion. I am, however, a quadruple Pisces so that may color my response.
PNC: You, sir, are amazing. Thank you so much for this! I owe you a beer, at least.