Diversity and Underrepresentation at Pagan Pride Events

Crystal Blanton —  September 20, 2013 — 30 Comments

September is often referred to as Pagan Pride month. Official Pagan Pride Day (PPD) events are a part of the Pagan Pride Project’s mission to “foster pride in Pagan identity through education, activism, charity and community.” According to the Pagan Pride Project website, “PPD Inc had 95 events happen across the USA; Canada; Mexico; Brazil; Columbia; Bolivia; Argentina; Chile; Costa Rica; Panama; the Dominican Republic; Rome, Italy; Vienna, Austria; and Plymouth, United Kingdom. Our 2012 attendance was 44,825.”

And while the Pagan Pride Project stakes claim to the PPD brand, many organizations are holding community events in September and marketing them as pride events for the Pagan community. September has become the official and unofficial month of “Pagan Pride” and events are held all over the United States to celebrate Pagan spirituality, educate the community at large, and to be a resource for networking, shopping, and entertainment.

Every year these events happen and some may walk away feeling the enjoyment of a day in the sun with community, while others feel excluded or disenchanted with the outcome of the event. This September alone, we have seen several blogs come out about some people’s experiences at this year’s events, and the conversations of whether everyone is represented at Pagan Pride Day.

What are the objectives or positive attributes of PPD events? And what can be done to encourage diversity among races, alternative lifestyles, and different subsets of Paganism that are often under-represented? With this Pagan Pride season in full swing, I asked some people about their experiences the last few years, why they go, if they felt represented, and what they may want to see in future PPD events.

Yvonne E. Nieves

Yvonne E. Nieves

 “As a Pagan woman of color, I struggle with attending pagan events for two reasons. The first reason is that to my non-Pagan community, it may seem as if I am Wiccan, a religion which has historically been associated with people of Anglo-Saxon and Northern-European heritage. There is a misconception that all Pagans are Wiccans, and conversely, that all Wiccans are white. Secondly, I find that pride events walk a fine line, as Pagans are often compartmentalized as being Wiccans who work mainly within a European construct. Both are simply not true. The way I challenge these notions is by actively attending Pagan pride events in order to educate both the Pagan and non-Pagan community that I am not Wiccan, and that Paganism allows me to honor the spirits of my ethnic heritage, as well as work in other, non-European pantheons.” - Yvonne E. Nieves, Pagan Witch and Reiki Master

Selena Fox, of Circle Sanctuary, has been actively supporting the Pagan Pride Project for the last 15 years, since its inception in 1998. She has continued to facilitate rituals and this year has attended PPD events in Chicago and Madison, Wisconsin. She is also scheduled to attend the Greater New Orleans PPD on September 21st, and for South Jersey PPD on October 5th. Other Circle Sanctuary Ministers and staff are listed at eight Pagan Pride Day events.

Selena Fox at Chicago PPD Opening Rite, courtesy of Manny Hammonds of Center of the Elemental Spirit

Selena Fox at Chicago PPD Opening Rite, courtesy of Manny Hammonds of Center of the Elemental Spirit

“Why support Pagan Pride Day events and the Pagan Pride Day project?  Doing so can help facilitate networking and relationships among Pagans of different paths as well as are opportunities for those who are not Pagan to learn more about Paganism as a whole and its diversity.

There is an on-going need to develop rituals and other activities at these events that acknowledge, honor, and support both Pagan diversity and Pagan unity. Over the years, in doing PPD rites, I have reached out to those of many paths to be part of rites I facilitate with this in mind.

The Pagan People, Pagan Paths Opening Ritual I facilitated at Chicago PPD this year had a large Community Cauldron as its centerpiece. We celebrated Pagan Pride, Diversity, and Unity with those from different places and paths, bringing waters from their home areas & blending them together in the Cauldron. Together, we all blessed these blended waters.   We first gave some of the blessed blended waters as an offering to the land where we held our rite. Then those who wished to do so, collected the Pagan Pride Waters to take to other PPD events. Pagan Pride Community Waters will also be part of the Enchanting New Orleans ritual I am facilitating this coming Saturday, and we also will have a second cauldron in which we will blend soil from different places.

 As the greater Pagan community grows in numbers and diversity, it is important to find ways that we can converge, honor our different paths, and building relationships that can help us work for the common good — for Paganism, and for the planet as a whole.” – Selena Fox, Circle Sanctuary Founder.

Cara Schulz

Cara Schulz

“I want to speak about pan-Pagan events in general. Revived and indigenous religions, for the most part, are not represented at Pagans events. More than that, at many events, there’s very little attempted to include these groups. There’s often quite a bit of lip service paid to being inclusive, but that’s all it is. I’d much rather an organizer understand their event is lacking in diversity and just acknowledge it. I don’t think organizers are being malicious, I think they often don’t understand or don’t want to understand how very different revived and indigenous religions are from mainstream Pagan traditions and from each other in practice and cultural outlook. They don’t understand how even the language they use excludes us. Which results in persons in revived and indigenous religions being told that our religions have been included and there’s plenty geared towards us when that patently isn’t true. Attempts at education on this can be perceived as negative, nitpicking, or just generally being a pain in the ass for overworked volunteers. So many of us don’t attend and we’re attacked for being unsupportive of the community or marginalized as too small to worry about . Other Pagans don’t see the true diversity of our community, or how many of us there really are, so events become even more homogeneous or bland. And there’s your vicious circle.

I’ve presented workshops at events to do my part to add to the diversity of the event and encourage others to do so, too. Not only do attendees enjoy learning about something different, I always benefit from the experience spiritually. However, organizers need to do their part to be more welcoming to minority Pagan religions by being seeking them out and listening to them.

I’d like to see more groups being authentic to who they are and sharing that with the wider community. Instead of trying to have the most non-offensive, inclusive rituals an event can come up with, have several rituals by different groups that show the heart and soul of who they are, how they relate to their God(s), and how they see their place in the universe. Same with art showings and workshops. The best art, the most moving ritual, the most powerful workshops happen when people are revealing their own core truths, not when they are trying to be all things to all people. Showing our differences and celebrating them strengthens our unity, it doesn’t destroy it.” – Cara Schulz. Managing Editor for Pagan Newswire Collective & member of Hellenion.

“Speaking on behalf of Central Illinois Pagan Pride Day we focus on education of our community… both pagan and nonpagan alike. It is a time for us to show our community that we live in that we’re not evil or satanic or green ! We are just people like everyone else who just follow a different religious viewpoint. This year our ritual focus is on Unity and Healing something much needed within both our own pagan community and the nonpagan community.

In the events I’ve been to outside our own I’d love to see more focus on education in general,not just a pagan flea market with a few workshops, ritual, and workshops geared towards pagans, but a real focus on education for the community”. –Jason A. Barna, LC Central Illinois Pagan Pride Day

Yvonne Conway

Yvonne Conway

“I live in Orange County which has four Pagan Pride events within an approximate two hour driving radius: Los Angeles, San Diego, Inland Empire, and Antelope Valley. Having these events brings our community closer together as pagans and residents. It’s a wonderful opportunity for those who are searching for fellow pagans to commune, connect, and network; a way for local residents interested in learning more about what our pagan community represents, as well as what we do not represent; and how we also contribute to the greater community through charity work by including a food drive as part of the event’s purpose.

I feel that many of the elements of my practice are well represented at Pagan Pride events I have been to, but not all. I would love to see a wider variety of paganism at these events.” – Yvonne Conway (MistressPrime), Elder High Priestess of Bran Faol Reannag

William E Ashton, II

William E Ashton, II

“PPD events tend to represent a pretty diverse cross-section of our community; however, the majority of our community are Caucasian folks. By practicing our religions we become minorities, yet there is a deep lack of people-of color American NeoPagans. Having people-of-color practicing these religions, and representing themselves at PPD events can show the larger community that our practices go beyond nationality, and ancestral religiosity… they address true minority religious concerns: liberation and equality.

As an individual, I don’t think I’m represented accurately at PPD events, because there aren’t a lot of activist folk in out-paganism. I’m talkin’ some Rage-Against-The-Machine type stuff… asking HARD questions of our people. I suppose those types attract too much attention (but if we’re proud, then WHY NOT attract attention).

I’d LOVE to see more activism, and takin’-it-to-the-streets action. I can’t say that holding some open rites in a park, having a ‘merchants row’/Diagon Alley, and a few 101 workshops with no secular community marketing makes me ‘proud’ to be a pagan. What about a march on state capitols when religious injustice arises? What about regulating our own egos when working with others in our VERY diverse practice community? I’d like to see representation of more traditional “pagan” religious expressions (Native American practices, Hindu/Vedic folk), as well as people-of-color who were drawn to this practice – hear their stories of WHY this practice? I want to see pagans taking agency in their collective religions, and acting as community, and having a larger, more powerful voice… in spite of our individuality and religious differences.” – Wm. E. Ashton, II

Heather Greene

Heather Greene

“Pride events provide the opportunity to reach out beyond the walls of our own practice in order to discover, first hand, the makeup of our local Pagan community. Who is practicing in our backyards? What traditions and faiths are here and aren’t?

For example, many people are surprised that a southern city, like Atlanta, would even have a vibrant Pagan community. Georgia actually hosts four pride events: Savannah, Augusta, Athens and Atlanta. By attending one of these, people can get a feel for the spirit, flavor and diversity of Pagan practice here in the South.

Additionally, PPD and other similar events give us a chance to experience something very old-fashion and still very essential. It is the opportunity to make real, solid connections with people living in our own area. These type of connections nurture compassion and community-bonding that cannot be achieved over the internet.

My favorite part of Atlanta Pagan Pride is seeing the diversity in our community, hearing the stories, experiencing what others believe and how they practice. I can only hope that APPD coordinators continue to nurture that festive and welcoming environment”. –  Heather Greene, Wild Hunt Columnist and NPIO of Covenant of the Goddess

Clio Ajana

Clio Ajana

“I don’t see my branch of practice represented much because we are Hellenic/Numen/Kemetic as a combination – so I see plenty of Celtic, solitary, Astatru, others but rarely Kemetic (of any type) or Hellenic/Kemetic or Hellenic/Numen/Kemetic combinations.  I would like to see more of events that are for pagans of color and those that are geared at ‘non-Celtic’ traditions. Not everyone practices straight Wicca. I also would like to see more open sexuality (e.g. GLBTQIA) represented. It is spoken about, but not always visible.

I would like to see more diversity in music, rituals and practices represented. When I go to a Pagan Pride or another Pagan event, I would like to see more people who look like me or who at least do not appear to be “stereotypical Pagan” in appearance. There is room for everyone and I would want that emphasized more.

Other than that – it is wonderful to see folks enjoying themselves and celebrating the joys of the earth and all that is pagan.” – Clio Ajana, 3rd Degree High Priestess/Education Coordinator, Our Lady of Celestial Fire

Jenett, the blogger from Thoughts From a Threshold, wrote a piece about her involvement in organizing as a board member for the Twin Cities Pagan Pride Day events in the Minnesota, and why she attends these events: “I go because I believe it’s good for the larger Pagan communities to talk in useful ways. To compare notes on what’s working and what isn’t, and what’s new in town. I go because I like doing workshops as a way to both meet interesting people and share useful stuff. But I go with moderate expectations. I expect to see some people I like, maybe meet a few people I might like, and so on. I don’t expect it to be a Major Point In My Life. And yet – part of why I’ve invested hours and hours in making them happen is because for some people, it is a major turning point in their life.”

Jenett talks about her experiences with the challenge of getting people to volunteer, lending to a very small population of people to meet the vast needs of a diverse Pagan community. This common challenge within volunteer organizations or events, bring about very interesting questions to contemplate. Does the Pagan community at large know how to support inclusivity among the many different levels of diversity that may be present? It is the age-old, what-came-first, question: the chicken or the egg? Does having participation from the different diverse populations and minority sects of Paganism support cultural understanding and fostering of more diversity? Or does planning for the needs of a diverse population bring in more diversity because there is a welcoming and open atmosphere for differences?

These are all questions that the Pagan community appears to have started to ask, and will hopefully continue to ask.

Yvonne Conway’s final statement regarding this topic was one I heard echoed among several of the PPD organizers, “However, if certain segments of the community are not getting representation at their local Pagan Pride, I would highly recommend they get involved with the planning of the events. Participating in planning is the best way to ensure your part of the community is represented at these events.”

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Crystal Blanton

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Crystal Blanton is an activist, writer, priestess, mother, wife and social worker in the Bay Area. She has published two books ("Bridging the Gap" and "Pain and Faith in a Wiccan World"), and was the editor of the anthology "Shades of Faith; Minority Voices in Paganism." She is a writer for Sage Woman and Patheos' Daughters of Eve blog. She is passionate about the integration of community, spirituality and healing from our ancestral past, and is an advocate for true diversity and multiculturalism within the Pagan community.
  • Courtney Weber

    Thank you, Crystal. The act of being inclusive in these circumstances is extremely important–equally as important is being aware of “tokenism” or singling out individuals or groups. As a Caucasian Priestess coming from a predominately Celtic background, I’ve found that the best course of inclusive community is to not try to just include “a piece from everywhere” as a lack of proper knowledge and understanding is bound to misrepresent at best, damage at worse. Instead, I try to focus on things that all in my community can relate to–where is The Goddess in NYC? How does She manifest in the subway, which we all share? Last year, our group led the main ritual at NYC PPD and instead of drawing from Deities from outside North America, we focused on the Harvest King in NYC–a green guy stuffed with bagels whose bounty comes not only from the Earth, but also from farmers, workers, and the service industry which brings the food to the islands of our city. Yes, wide representation is helpful, but I’ve found the greatest balance in focusing less on historic traditions (in these group environments intended to foster community) and more on contemporary commonalities. Historic traditions need their preservation and space and representation to be sure, but I encourage those who wish to foster that space to start with common space and grow into the branches from there.

  • Dana House-Elf

    Thank you, Crystal, I agree that Pagans of color are underrepresented in
    Pagan events. Here’s another perspective, seen through the prism of
    helping coordinate Pagan Pride Day this year in the DFW area: We have
    extensively advertised for and specifically invited cultural diversity
    from January 2013 forward. We were successful in gathering a diverse
    group of Traditions, yet not one Pagan of color has stepped up to join
    the planning circle. Not one Pagan of color has offered to do a workshop.
    A plea to the community for Orisha and Yoruba participants was answered
    by one local Priest who happens to be Caucasian. I don’t keep track of
    the race of volunteers, so I know of only one participating volunteer offhand (happens to be a Wiccan HPs) who has offered to invest time in PPD this year. It’s a curiosity. I
    personally feel the lack of cultural diversity here in Texas (I’m
    neither strictly Caucasian, Celtic or Norse Trad nor “from around here”)
    and deeply feel the lack of First Tribes, Central/South American and
    Caribbean influence in our Pagan events, but it’s also true that you
    can’t force folks to participate. I’m hopeful that minority Pagans –
    indeed if there is even a “minority Pagan” population here in North
    Texas – will step up next year and add even greater “texture” to PPD 2014.

    • Hecate_Demetersdatter

      Thank you for your perspective. I have a huge amount of respect for the folks who do the difficult work, year in and year out, of organizing these events.

      When dealing with similar issues, I find that it’s sometimes helpful to change, “Not one Pagan of color has offered to do a workshop,” to “Not one Pagan of color felt comfortable offering to do a worship.”

      Just provides a different way of thinking about these issues. “Pagan of color” can be replaced with “feminist,” or “transgendred,” or “gay,” or “reconstructionist,” or whatever.

      I’m grateful to Ms. Blanton for writing a post that brings these issues to our attention.

    • Crystal Blanton

      I think there are a lot of things to consider in a community. I am sure there are Pagans of color in North Texas, we are everywhere. I think a more productive question that can be asked is what about the community, event, location or social issues make it feel unsafe for Pagans of color to get involved. There are many reasons that any population might not feel welcomed, or feel accepted, or feel safe to come to the table. Most times it is a complex, interwoven concerns that include various factors. One factor in particular to also consider is not just the acceptance level of Pagans… but also the challenge of the Black community (for example) with acceptance of Wicca.

      I will say that specifically with African American, there are a lot more practicing Wicca or Pagan related paths and that moves out of the realm of just Orisha or Yoruba practitioners.

  • Franklin Evans

    The following is my solely personal perspective and cannot be construed to represent even indirectly others participating in or associated with PPD.

    As a former coordinator for Philadelphia PPD, which went dormant for some years until resurrected this year by a a group of Heathens for whom no words can exaggerate my pride and gratitude, I can state for my regional community that it’s all about dialogue and the willingness to step forward and be in the public spotlight.

    I’ve had my moments of shrugging and scratched head over why so many are still secretive about their beliefs, but the reality must be acknowledged and respected: If I, a caucasian male with all the trimmings, might hesitate to go public as a Pagan, how much more hesitant might be a person of color, especially from a belief system that continues to be stereotyped and scapegoated like the Afro-Carribean traditions?

    Every organizing group and committee has its distinct mix of individual personalities and attitudes. Some groups, through longevity or sheer ego, have come to take a proprietary ownership of their event and process. I want to hold that up to criticism, but not to derail this topic. Regardless, I’ve learned and always taken the position that from first organizing meeting to final clean-up after the event, the only qualification for participating is showing up and offering your energy.
    My personal experience while the active coordinator was significant frustration and a fairly quick burnout. No matter how broadly I tried to make the event known, no matter how hard I tried to solicit participation, the only ones who stepped forward were the ones who also had a personal connection to me.
    I don’t care how far away from the “standard” description you are, what I care about is that you know about PPD and that you make a conscious decision to participate or not, but what I can’t understand is why you (general) are not there with the specific groups having a dialogue about at least that decision. Are you sure their reaction to you will be negative, or that your experience will be uncomfortable, or are you making an assumption about that? I’m not second-guessing your probably significant evidence in the past to make that assumption. I am fervently wishing that you find sufficient motivation to step forward despite it.

    • cernowain greenman

      I happened to be out east a few years ago and my wife and I attended your revived Philly PPD downtown. It was small but truly mighty! And we were impressed by the friendliness of the Pagan people there. I– a midwest eclectic from Indianapolis, IN– actually had a wonderful encounter with a Gardnerian as we talked about the importance of story in our relative traditions. I am so glad I went. You all keep up the good work.

      • Franklin Evans

        Can you say which year and/or the location? I’d like to pass on your comment to those who organized that year.
        I have to say, not totally facetiously, that i’d never met a Gardnerian I liked until I met some who are my regional neighbors. Our local groups are small but mighty, indeed, in many ways. I am frequently reminded that quality trumps quantity every time. Many thanks.

  • cernowain greenman

    In the past as a PPD coordinator, I’ve invited a gay Pagan to lead a PPD workshop on his spirituality and path. He was shy about it, but I encouraged him. He did come and prepared a presentation but no one attended his workshop. We were both disappointed but I hope sometime to try again.

    He has told me that many gay Pagans attend the original LBGT Pride Day and feel a stronger identity with that gathering, rather than PPD. Maybe if more Pagans went to the LBGT Pride then we’d see more LGBT folks at Pagan Pride.

    • Franklin Evans

      Our Pagan population consists of a significant proportion of LGBT people, some of whom fulfill leadership roles in our community. Because of that, I haven’t given it much thought, but perhaps that indicates a bad assumption on my part. Thank you for bringing that up.

  • http://www.forgingthesampo.com/ Kauko

    I’ve frankly never been to the local PPD because, whenever I look at the website and its list of events etc every year, I’ve never seen anything applicable to my religion.

    • cernowain greenman

      Would you consider offering to give a workshop or lead a ritual based on your path? It sounds like your community there could really use your input.

      • http://www.forgingthesampo.com/ Kauko

        Well, aside from the fact that I’m not fond of public speaking, the local PPD isn’t some large event with lots of workshops and rituals. There are only a couple of very generic workshops (meditation, magical herbs etc), and one ritual for Mabon/ equinox- which is not a holiday in my religion. The local PPD is essentially a celebration of Wicca and Wicca-like Paganism, and, as such, I’m content to not participate.

        • Lēoht Sceadusawol

          From what I have heard, most ‘Pagan’ events are Wicca-normative.

          Certainly not a thing that would interest me. (Mind you, I have pretty much decided that Pagan, as an umbrella term, does not encompass Heathenry (which is, itself, an umbrella term).)

    • Mustangofold

      The words and actions of the group that organize the PPD in my area disgusted me so much that I will never support them or the event again.
      I deal with rude, insulting, belligerent, and irrelevant behaviour on a daily basis in my profession. It is not tolerated and it is dealt with. Seeing that directed at past and current volunteers by those in charge on one day and then asking for more volunteers, more donations, more public input, and haranguing a community for not helping on the next just left me in a rage.

  • Anna H.

    As a former Pagan community leader and one-time organizer of many public Pagan events, including a PPD many, many years ago, I would love to see more diversity. However, I would also like FIRST to see a lot more public praise, appreciation, and recognition of the amazing tons of personal energy and zeal, and dedication that a handful of unpaid and largely untrained coordinators/organizers put into these events for the sheer love of it. Because they think it is the right thing to do. Because they see a need and try to meet it as best as they can.

    It’s important to keep in mind that these people, by and large, are entirely volunteer and that they do these activities while working one or more jobs, raising a family, and going to school.

    When I was a coordinator, I would not have the slightest clue on how to ask for help with diversity. Frankly, I’d feel uncomfortable going to an African-American Pagan, or a Transgender Wiccan, or any other person of diversity; isn’t it presumptive and potentially offensive of me to assume that an African-American Pagan or anyone else would want to do a seminar for strangers on their experience as xxxxxx? Isn’t that “othering” in its own way? (And by the way, isn’t it presumptive and racist to assume that an African-American Pagan does NOT work with Northern European deities or has the slightest interest in the pantheons of Africa? ‘Cause I’ve known more African-American, Celtic-based Pagans and African-American Pagans who are not interested in African-based religions or pantheons.)

    What if I were to coordinate an event with a public ritual, and ask for help creating a ritual that would satisfy the spiritual needs of reconstructionists and non-Wiccans, and did not get that help? What should I do? Forego any ritual whatsover? Try to put something together myself and risk botching the job because I’m not a recon? Would it not be arrogant and potentially appropriative for me, a Wiccan priestess, to presume to put together a ritual with Recon elements?

    It’s scary, and paralyzing, a minefield fraught with potential offense and wrongdoing that all the good intentions in the world cannot avoid. And Goddess forbid any of us screw up one little bit, because then we’ll get raked over the blog-coals. Notice I said “former community leader,” by the way.

  • Tauri1

    I wonder if the reason for the lack of African, Native, Hindu or other community participants is due to those communities simply not identifying themselves as “Pagan” and therefore seeing no reason to be involved in Pagan Pride Day.

    • Crystal Blanton

      Some do and some don’t. There are plenty of people of color that do identify with a Pagan path, but do not always feel comfortable or safe in community.

  • Lēoht Sceadusawol

    I worry that ‘Pride’ events can be co-opted.

    “Gay Pride”, for example, is about gender/sex rights. Doesn’t seem ‘polite’ to try and draw attention to something other than that on ‘their’ day.

    Likewise, is “Pagan Pride” the right place to discuss gender/racial inclusivity? Surely it would be more appropriate to consider religious inclusivity? After all, many people still largely equate Paganism with Wicca.

    Why even define as a ‘Pagan of Colour’? The goal is for society to be colour blind, isn’t it?

    • Crystal Blanton

      Oh, Absolutely NOT. A color blind society is an illusion that is one of the most unempathetic concepts generated by a society that does not understand race relations. That would be like saying we should be a gender blind society and not notice if someone is a woman or a male. It is a part of who you are.

      We have to come to a place of understanding that race is not an reason to discriminate, but our differences are beautiful. As a Black woman, to deny my race would be to deny my culture, my history, my ancestors, and our family story. In my opinion, the society’s previous push for being “color blind” was another way to instill the cognitive dissonance that would make it easy to ignore the atrocities that this country committed in the name of race and power. It is now easier to “act” like we are the same, when our country was founded on the fact that we were not. And that way no one has to take any responsibility for the aftermath.

      And so, to make Pagan Pride “our” day, that would mean that we don’t compartmentalize people and package them into boxes of Black on one day, Pagan on another, sexual beings on another. We are all inclusive in our skin and that is what Pagan should be about.

      • Baruch Dreamstalker

        As a 72-year-old white liberal I’d like to ventilate the concept of “color-blind society.” It is something we liberals strove for during the Civil Rights movement, a society in which one’s color is irrelevant to one’s right to vote, sit on a bus, each lunch at a counter, etc. We were inspired by the likes of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, which was radical at the time it was delivered howsoever vanilla it sounds now to people who weren’t born yet. A lot of us knew that this was the first step, not the last.When efforts to address the rest of the task started manifesting as various forms of affirmative action, the right wing discovered the “color-blind society” meme as a way to resist that and have been doing so ever since. From this flows the negative meaning Crystal Blanton rightly attaches to it.As long as I’m at my keyboard, let me suggest for both this topic and disabilities — I am disabled and was flatly unable to attend PPD for a while — a method that worked well for the Civil Rights movement: Get different Pagans talking to each other, not during the planning of Pagan Pride Day but sometime during the rest of the year, about diversity and exclusion generally in our community. Just listen to each other and let the Other become just another Pagan.

        • Lēoht Sceadusawol

          I wasn’t aware that there had been a negative ‘spin’ attached to the phrase I used. I was thinking along the lines of MLK.

          I do not judge a person based on their anatomy, but by their words and deeds.

      • Lēoht Sceadusawol

        “Pagan” *should* be about the gods.

        • Crystal Blanton

          And it is… The creation of the Gods come in all different types, just like the Gods themselves. We have to accept the whole of the Gods, not just the parts we want or like. Same with people.

    • Rhoanna

      Yes, Pagan Pride is the right place to discuss gender/racial inclusivity of the (local) pagan community, and especially of Pagan Pride. Where else would it be discussed?

      Surely you can see that there’s something wrong if there’s few to none black people (or women or queer people or whatever) at Pagan Pride, but there are more in the local pagan community? And if that’s the case, something should be done to try to include them.

      Which isn’t to say that something shouldn’t be done about broadening pagan events beyond Wicca & Wiccan-influenced religions. But we can do both.

      • Lēoht Sceadusawol

        In my area, there are way more ‘ethnic minorities’ than there are (visible) Pagans and/or Heathens.

  • Virginia L Beach

    I am very disappointed that there is nothing mentioned here about Pagans With Disabilities. We seem to be the one group that often gets neglected with it comes to Pagan Pride Day events, Pagan Gatherings, etc.

    This is particularly problematic for an individual like myself, who happens to be a Deaf Pagan. I have yet to see a single Pagan Pride Day event that has made an effort to provide sign language interpreters and welcome deaf and hard of hearing individuals to attend and participate in their events. Despite my attempts to encourage them to do so here in my city (which does hold a Pagan Pride Event annually), there’s been nothing done and I have never felt welcomed to any of their events. In fact I had a heated exchange of words with the leader of the local PPD regarding lack of understanding and acceptance of deaf issues…leading to a lack of sensitivity and a lack of accessibility on the part of the local Pagan Community.

    It’s unfortunate, because I would love to attend these types of events. I would love to be able to share my own experiences of merging my spirituality as a Pagan with my identity as a Deaf person. I would love to be able to teach others how to do silent rituals, or how to sign simple Pagan chants and phrases.

    But until I and other Pagans with Disabilities feel like we are welcomed into the circle….

    • Crystal Blanton

      Very good point. It just so happens that the responses to this article that I got back did not mention disability. There was not specific agenda to include or not include some areas of minorities. I reached out to a bunch of people and included statements from everyone who responded. I think disability is a huge issue within the Pagan community and will make sure to put that one specifically on my radar for a future article.

    • Franklin_Evans

      This is the most difficult issue for me. I feel that I don’t fully understand it from your (Pagans with disabilities) perspective, and I respectfully ask about a certain reaction I know I have and that others have expressed: Are we truly actively excluding you, or are we passively not providing the necessary extra logistics for you?

      Case in point: For an annual event (ritual/performance open to the public) one year we added to our budget an ASL interpreter for the spoken/sung portions. One and only one deaf person attended all of the three performances for which we paid for this service. The admission donation requested was $10. It was the first and last time.

      It’s impersonal, even harshly so, but true. The larger the event, the harder it is to raise money to pull it off, especially as with PPD there is no such thing as an admission payment or donation. Those of us who do want to be accessible must ask the following question: who is going to pay for it?

      Is our efforts the point here? Must we prove our acceptance of and support for our less- and disabled siblings in faith with material expressions? I don’t know the answer. I supported the ADA with my voice and vote, and I speak up for it whenever I encounter a space which should be accessible but isn’t. I can also state without hesitation that if all Pagan events were forced to comply with ADA, almost none of them would continue to exist, and the simple arithmetic of money is why, not necessarily the organizers’ attitudes.

    • Joanne Dunster

      That is not a very constructive attitude. How do organisers make pagans with disability feel welcome and and understood if they refuse to attend. They aren’t going to be aware of what accommodations are necessary or wanted. What is wrong with bringing a friend to sign the ritual for you or asking politely for a copy of the script? If someone had done those things at a ritual I ran I would be more than happy to accomodate, and then recognising there was a need in my community, I would ask them for their advise and help for the next year. Sure if the organisers are being deliberate jerks then by all means get upset, but don’t just blanket refuse to participate, that isn’t going to get anything changed.

  • Joanne Dunster

    If all the people that stood on the sidelines and complained actually stuck their hands up and got involved then they would get represented.

    I used to volunteer and run events and training in my community but I got sick of the excuses.

    “Oh I would contribute to your magazine if it were bigger and glossier”
    “Oh I would attend your event if it was closer to my home”
    “Oh I would support your organisation but I don’t like the logo”
    “Oh I would volunteer to help but I don’t like the training program”
    “Oh I would attend your event but I don’t like the organiser”
    “Oh I would attend your event but the program is not to my taste”

    In my experience it seems to mostly boil down to “I get my community fix from the small group of friends I know and I am not actually interested in the rest of the community”. The problem is by making excuses instead of being honest you are effectively off-loading your own issues and telling overworked volunteers that no matter what they do it will never be good enough.

    Diversity is important but it is not the volunteers fault if they put out surveys, call for volunteers, advertise, ask around, approach people directly, run free training, make special efforts to make people comfortable and network and no-one answers. They can only represent who they are.