Story by: ED Johnston
OUT OF THE BROOM CLOSET, AND INTO THE PUBLIC EYE
When I became the coordinator for Vancouver Pagan Pride I had to agree to be completely out of the broom closet. One reason for this was because I needed to be available to speak to the media without any worry. Being ‘out’ was not an issue for me, but I never really thought about the reality or outcome that being in the public’s eye would have. Fast-forward a few years, and our event has caught the attention of some media and suddenly I was in the position where I was being asked to be interviewed. Without a second thought, I agreed to be interviewed – on live radio.
As I waited for the details to be sorted out, the reality starts to set in and I began to get nervous.
Would I be able to represent the pagan community well?
Would I say something ridiculous?
How do I answer that difficult question of what is a pagan?
I got myself so worked up that I went from nervous to scared.
I’m a talker and can easily ramble on – especially about subjects that I hold so dear to my heart. I love listening to pagan podcasts and I have heard some really bad ones; I didn’t want to be one of them. I didn’t want people to think that I sounded unprofessional instead of understanding the clear message that I was determined to convey.
I worried that my nerves would keep me up the night before, but thankfully I was able to have a good night’s sleep. Morning arrived, and I was as ready as I was going to be…
As the morning progressed, my nerves went to a funny place, all I could think about was what if I needed to pee during the show. It was scheduled as a live interview, so it’s not like we could press pause so I could run to the loo. Soon my fear of needing to pee transformed into my fear of sounding like a fool. From this point forward, I couldn’t bear to drink any more liquids; It would just have to wait until after the show.
The lovely people at the station kept offering me water but I just couldn’t. So of course by the end of the interview my voice had a distinctly raspy sound to it since I wasn’t able to sip water throughout the show and although my co-guest Wendy offered to share her water with me, the pee fear was just too strong!
When I arrived at the radio station, everyone was so warm and welcoming. My stress levels decreased just from the great atmosphere in the studio. I am glad we decided to do the interview in studio (rather than calling-in) because I was able to meet people in person and have any anxieties dull. There were a few moments where Wendy and I could look at each other before answering a question – engaging in a kind of non-verbal communication; an often forgotten/overlooked channel of information exchange.
When I get excited about things, I can become that person who interrupts. I don’t like being that person and I know that this would be a terrible thing to do on the radio (as I have noted from listening to those bad podcasts). So – throughout the hour, I had the “don’t interrupt” mantra living in the back of my mind. There were a number of times where Wendy would say something and I would think of something to add to the conversation, but that back-of-the-brain vow would warn me to not interrupt. I ended up speaking less than Wendy on most questions, as after she would finish her thought, the interviewer/host would often progress to another talking point.
As the hour-long show came to a close, the host asked how the public could contact me. I couldn’t believe that I forgot to have my contact information ready, waiting in front of me. Lesson learned. Next time, I’ll be ready.
I wanted to write about the experience of being on the radio, but time flew by without me being aware of what was happening. I remember the preparations leading to the interview – and I remember the relief of it being over – but that hour in the middle is a blur.
We walked out of the recording room into the general area and I had this weird feeling of not remembering a thing that had just happened.
What had I said?
Did I sound okay?
Was I rambling?
I had no idea.
I felt relieved, but there was now stress of not knowing if I had represented the community well. I wanted to present myself as professional and intelligent. I wanted to do a great job representing the Vancouver Pagan community.
I figured we had done an okay job since the host referred to us as being ‘normal’ a few times. (I don’t think I have been called normal that many times in my whole life!) But that is kind of the point of our outreach with Vancouver Pagan Pride – to show the greater community that we are just like them and we aren’t weird people that should be feared.
Later that night I settled in and listened to the show online. I could hear my own thoughts in-between short bouts of silence, but during the later half of the segment my self-criticisms dissolved. I feel really good about the discussion around Pagan’s fearing to let others know about their practices/paths. I believe this also made an “Impact” with the host/interviewer and hopefully the listeners, as well!
Now that I have gotten my feet wet, I’m looking forward for more opportunities to represent Vancouver Pagan Pride and educate the public about our culture and community. As I stand so far away from the broom closet, I continue to strive to be the voice for so many others who can’t yet stand with me. Bring.It.On!
After listening to the hour-long segment, tell us what you think and share your comments below!