People are always talking about atheists being in the closet, a term we stole from the gays for not being publicly honest about how you really are. I feel bad for the people who have to keep their atheism a secret. There are plenty of good reasons to do it – religious friends and family members you don’t want to lose, possible drama at work, living in a small conservative neighborhood, etc. But even if staying closeted is the safer alternative, it still sucks knowing you’re “living a lie.”
I’ve found myself in an odd predicament. I’m basically completely out of the closet except for two people – my grandparents. They go to church every weekend, they take religious holidays seriously, they cross themselves before eating, etc. But my grandparents are by no means bible thumpers or overly zealous; they’re fairly liberal and honestly never really talk about religion. They even know that my parents and I never go to church and that I wasn’t baptized, and that has never really come up in conversation as a problem (at least not in front of me).
However, them knowing I am an atheist is not an option. My mom asserts that it would break their poor 88 year old hearts knowing I didn’t believe in God, and to never ever mention anything about it to them. I have to catch myself to not mention club related stuff, especially since that takes up so much of my time at school. Usually I can get away with being in local newspapers because it won’t get back to them. And the internet isn’t too big of an issue because they have no idea how to use a computer.
Honestly my main fear is that someone who DOES know how to use a computer is going to Google my name one day and tell them about it. I mean, I don’t hide my atheism. I don’t want to hide it. I have an atheist heavy blog, my name is plastered on the Society of Non-Theists website, if you know my email you can probably find a half dozen websites and blogs I comment at. I used to think I was safe since my uncle, the only person who would probably squeal on me if he found out, had no idea how to use a computer. But apparently he’s at Googling level now, so I’m getting a bit worried.
I guess I should be happy it’s just two people I’m hiding from, but it still makes me feel bad that I have this “deep dark secret.” I’d love to be even more active in the atheist community – writing books, doing events that get national news coverage – but I’m too afraid it would trickle back to my grandparents. And the last thing I’d want to do is upset them; they’re honestly the most kind, wonderful people and I love them very much. People have told me that they’re old and to just wait until they pass away, but I think that’s awful. I’d love for them to live to be 120 if they could. I hope beyond hope that they make it to my wedding (whenever that will be, sort of have to find a guy first), but at the same time I know there’s no way I’ll get married in a church or have any mention of God at the ceremony. And that makes me nervous.
Is there anyone else teetering between out and closeted? Desperately trying to hide your atheism from a select few while being out and active everywhere else? Or am I just destined for failure?