I am Pagan, and I have always hated the repetitive, annoying, or offensive questions that occur every time I come out of the broom closet.
I live in the UK and work at a museum which has a decorative display of nativity items within the collection. For the run up to Christmas these will be on display in the gallery and I was given the job of creating the labels for this display. Unfortunately for everyone my knowledge of Christmas and the nativity is rather limited to what I have gained from TV, and when I got to be a fairy in the nursery nativity (I have now learned I was never a fairy, I was an angel which both bolstered and crushed my childish esteem).
I decided the best way to tackle this was to learn about the nativity, and what I was being asked to display. First I read the bible story, which resulted in questions. Since I had yet to come out of the broom closet in this job (because of the dreaded questions) I decided I would ask a Catholic friend and a Church of Scotland friend the questions I had gathered.
I genuinely was trying to find out about the nativity so that I could do a good job, and present the nativity scene in an appropriate way. But in doing so, I became an annoying, repetitive, and offensive question asker.
Since then I have truly understood the reasoning behind the questions I get asked about my belief system. I understand why people ask the questions: they want to know and understand something that is integral to the way I live my life, and maybe find out about something they did not previously know about. I understand why people still don’t get something when I answer the first round of question and get, yet more questions: they do not believe something, and a belief system is very much based on your ability to believe in something, but they still want to understand what I do and why I do it.
So now I have come out of the broom closet, and I calmly answered the questions that followed. Maybe understanding of things we are not familiar with comes from first being ignorant and asking offensive, intrusive, or annoying questions. And if we are all able to answer some of these questions calmly, then maybe the world will slowly become a much more open, accepting and understanding place.