Just over four years ago I wrote “Yes, there will come a day when we should be blase about people coming out- when most of the world will be blase about it.. but as our current struggles clearly show, we are not yet there.”
While I stand by my belief that we must work to achieve a society where one’s sexual orientation(s) and gender identity(s) are not grounds for hatred, discrimination or bullying, I do feel I need to slightly revise my earlier comment. For some time I”ve believed we in the ‘modern’ Western world have gone too far and lost too much by abandoning any- and every-thing that hints at our ‘primitive’ past.
I posted the following at my Celebrant/ Officiant Website:
There is no doubt we have, collectively, gained much from the progress experienced over the past centuries; longer life-expectancy, better living conditions (at least in some cultures) and the ability to explore (in person or virtually) virtually any other location on Earth; and in time, in space. Much of this progress has come through advances in understanding this world through the prism of rational thought and the scientific method. But there is also a principle or concept known as unintended consequences – a term popularized by sociologist Robert K. Merton to describe outcomes that are not the ones intended by a purposeful action. While some are positive (variously thought of as a bonus, new benefit, or lucky coincidence) all too often the term refers to a negative consequence; a bug, drawback, side-effect or down-side.
We now live in a culture that has lost sight of thousands of years of ritual, that has replaced wisdom learned from living in earth-centric communities with a blend of psycho-babble and a patriarchal fear-driven illusion of what makes “a real man” or, for that matter, “a real woman”. Some say that we no longer need ritual and ceremony because they are basically nothing but religious practises and “god is dead“.
Yet we continue to engage in ceremonies from birth to death; baptism (or baby-naming), circumcision, marriage and funerals being perhaps the most obvious. While we in the ‘modern world’ no longer engage in pagan/ heathen ‘coming of age’ rituals centred on wilderness survival or various gender-segregated ceremonies, many a youngster still has a Mitzvah or their Senior Prom or a ritual around getting their first car. Some therapists (practitioners of various ‘soft sciences’ in the minds of some ‘real scientists’) have come to recognize there is, or can be, some benefit to be gained through rituals marking other events; loss of a personal or business relationship (divorce or getting laid off) is recognized as having a major impact on one’s mental health. We hold the spirits of those four-leggeds who have blessed us with their love very close to our heart and know just how deeply such losses are felt.
Neo-pagans have long recognized this and have ceremonies and rituals to mark any number of milestones in the cycle of life. With this in mind, we are available to commemorate those events you consider important milestones in your journey on this planet; we will work with you to prepare and facilitate a suitable ceremony.
And so I argue that instead of being blase about people coming out, we need to celebrate such ‘cycle of life’ moments. Certainly if we hold Graduation Ceremonies for everyone who survives Kindergarten we can and should make noise when someone recognizes and embraces such an important aspect of their humanity.