(This whole post has nothing at all to do with Fat Acceptance, except that I'm both a fat acceptance activist as well as a Pagan activist. Maybe we should start Fat Pride Day?)
My dear friend calls me Mama Bear on occasion, usually in reference to my relationship with my son. It's pretty accurate, actually; I let Gabe bumble about and learn things while I sit off to the side and do somewhat of my own thing while keeping an eye and an ear on him. Sometimes though, sometimes fierceness is needed.
Tomorrow is my local Pagan Pride event. This morning I got a call from a local news agent who had a couple of questions about the day; when rituals are happening, what would be the best time to come by for a photo op and interview, etc. He honestly asked me if we'd be doing the rituals at sundown so we could dance in it's light or some such thing. I laughed and said no. The reason I DO Pagan Pride is because of that very reason, that misconception that all Pagans dance under the light of the full moon (or setting sun), that we're all goddess-worshipping hippies or power hungry warlocks. There was a man arrested in Brampton, Ontario just last week for the crime of pretending to use witchcraft. The law, section 365 of the Criminal Code of Canada, states that anyone pretending to or actually performing witchcraft is breaking the law. I'll be doing witchcraft tomorrow several times; can I be arrested? Yes. Will I be? Probably not. The law is ancient and poorly worded and my right to religious freedom is protected by the Charter. HOWEVER, that doesn't mean the stereotypes, both neutral and negative, disappear. It doesn't negate the fact that when I was at placement last fall at a PUBLIC school my advisor told me flat out I wouldn't be able to 'get away with' wearing my pentacle in class, despite several other teachers wearing a crucifix. It'd cause too many questions, I was told, and I'd get hauled up infront of the board to be sure. Nevermind I'd be willing to answer those questions with real information and maybe dispell some of the myths. Nevermind that my right to wear the pentacle in a public school is protected by the Charter. Nevermind that, as a young woman just entering the field, even considering such a thing is a real act of courage. Nevermind all that; we just don't want any awkward questions.
Pagan Pride is foremost an educational event, then a celebration of the autumn and harvest season. Only through open communication and example will Paganism ever reach mainstream status like Christianity has, if ever. I doubt we'll ever have a Pagan Prime Minister or a judge on the Supreme Court who's a Wiccan but it's worth fighting for. For every person who shows up tomorrow thinking "What are they going on about?" and leaves thinking "Well that was pretty neat." I'll be very happy.