Two groups of people that are generally “invisible” in our society are the homeless who DO NOT conform to the “bag lady and bum” stereotype and those of us who follow non-Abrahamic faiths (aka “Pagans”). In both cases, at least a portion of the reason is discomfort with what is ‘different’ or ‘other’ as well as the inability of some people to see themselves in the position of that ‘different’ person.
This has led to an uncomfortable realization for me. Because I am BOTH, I am doubly invisible. Heck, truth be told, I might as well not exist at all in the minds of many people. Not only do I not “look” homeless but I also do not fit the appearance of what many people think a “Pagan” should look like. I don’t go around with brightly dyed hair in a color that nature never intended a human to wear, nor do I sport a lot of piercings, tattoos or pentacle jewelry. I confess to having a single tattoo and pierced ears, but in our society that is not all that uncommon. If anything, I look like what had once been described as “a hippy soccer mom”.
I sit in a wi-fi hot spot with my family’s laptop answering email, waiting for a game to download to the computer and typing this blog and it strikes me how ‘normal’ what I am doing is – even after I have just finished a survey about Pagans and how our needs are or are not being met in society. But, being Pagan is not ‘mainstream’ despite how much we might wish otherwise and I see problems for those of us who fit both categories from the title of this blog.
The current field of Republican candidates does not inspire in me any great confidence that the already fragile social safety net will not be further eroded should they be elected to public office and as I am currently homeless I am forced to depend on that net. The shelters that are available are almost always run by one faith-based organization or another – and that faith is almost always Christian. It makes the non-Christian sometimes feel like they are not important in the scheme of things (and numerically Pagans ARE statistically insignificant enough that most people don’t think of us when thinking “religious sensitivity”). Even among the Pagan community, my particular faith is a minority one – as a former room-mate once (cruelly) put it “a fringe-group of a fringe-group”. Amidst the growing recognition of Wicca as a faith practice, many people forget that Wiccans are not the only “Pagans” in this country or even that anything other than Wicca EXISTS.
When you might as well not exist BOTH because of your faith and because of your economic situation, it is disquieting and probably will be the topic of other blogs when I am no longer homeless and have a stable base for my more political writings.