It’s easy enough to understand the phrase “Pagan Pride Day” by just breaking it down into its elements.
- Pagan is the trickiest part to define. A religion can be considered “Pagan” if its roots predate Christianity, if it has an Earth focus, or if it entails the worship of many gods. Not everyone who follows a system like that uses the term “Pagan” (it’s polite to ask!) but we’re trying to cast a wide net and welcome people from many minority traditions.
- Pride is what we want Pagans — and those who hang around them — to be able to show. Most Pagan religions don’t involve proselytizing or witnessing, and many practitioners are solitary. Pride is about expressing that we are part of society, and it’s also about finding out which of your neighbors might also be Pagan.
- Day is the “when” part of this equation, as in when Pagans are being asked to publicly show their pride. This is about being in public, and exercising our First Amendment rights of assembly, speech, religion, and the press (because we will be inviting reporters from local newspapers and television stations to cover the event).
There have been Pagan Pride days in the United States for decades, with rumors of Pagan Pride events as early as 1992. Many of them are organized under the auspices of Pagan Pride Project, which gives event planners an umbrella nonprofit to help get all the administrivia addressed. That’s why most of them around the United States are harvest-themed with a food drive.
Public outreach is another important part of any Pagan Pride Day, particularly at a time when there is a high level of misunderstanding and suspicion regarding minority religious practices. We want non-Pagans to 1) recognize that Pagans are positive additions to the local faith community and 2) be able to get their questions answered, as a curious onlooker or as a potential seeker.
The New Paltz Pagan Pride committee is thus far sponsored by the Church of the Eternal Circle, the members of which have provided meeting space, technical and financial support to the effort. Their assistance is appreciated.