NOTE: If you already replied to this request when I first made it back in May, there’s no need to reply again, unless your answers have significantly changed. I have all the old replies. I’m just doing one more round of collecting stories before I finish up the book.
I’m writing a new book — a how-to guide about coming out atheist, “Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why.” And I need your stories, and your advice.
IMPORTANT: Please read this entire post before commenting! I’m looking for somewhat specific kinds of stories, with somewhat specific kinds of information. So please don’t just scroll to the comments and pour out your heart. Please read this entire post before pouring out your heart. It’s not that long, I promise.
I’m writing a how-to guide about coming out atheist. I obviously want this guide to reflect a wide range of atheist experiences. So I’m gathering stories. And I’m looking for somewhat specific kinds of information. You don’t have to answer every one of these questions, btw — if you do, it’ll help, but partial answers will also be very useful.
Specific Kind of Information #1: I am not — repeat, NOT — looking for stories about how you became an atheist.
I am looking for stories about how you told other people that you’re an atheist.
I want to know:
what you said;
how you said it;
how the person/ people you came out to responded;
what the results/ consequences of coming out were;
how (if at all) things have changed with time;
whether, on the whole, you’re happy you came out or regret doing so
I love hearing stories about how people became atheists. (I’m even gathering those stories elsewhere.) But that’s not what this book is about. This book is about how to tell the people in your life that you’re an atheist. (Or agnostic/ non-theist/ non-believer/ materialist/ naturalist/ humanist/ freethinker/ whatever word you use to mean that you don’t believe in gods.) So right now, those are the stories I want to hear.
Now, if your process of becoming an atheist involved talking with other people and coming out to them about your doubts, that’s fine. Just please keep the story focused on the coming-out part — not the “becoming an atheist” part.
Specific Kind of Information #2: If I quote you in the book, what name do you want me to use? Real full name, your real first name, your online handle, or a made-up name? (If you don’t specify, I’ll assume you want your online handle used if you reply in comments, and a made-up name if you reply in email.)
Specific Kind of Information #3: Please specify who you came out to in this particular story. Is it about coming out to:
your spouse or partner;
other family members;
co-workers or other professional colleagues;
members of your religious community;
members of a specific non-religious community (shared hobby, parenting group, etc.);
members of your community in general;
other (please specify)
If you want to tell more than one coming-out story about coming out to different people, please do.
Specific Kind of Information #4: There are some specific pieces of information that will help a lot. If at all possible, please tell:
where you live(d) when you came out in this story;
where the person/people you came out to lived;
whether you came out in person, over the phone, in email, on Facebook, etc.;
whether you came out to just one person, or to more than one person at a time (i.e., one parent or both at once, one friend or everyone at a party, etc.);
whether you came out voluntarily, or were involuntarily outed
Specific Kind of Information #5: If there are particular circumstances to your coming-out story which may have made your coming out either harder or easier, please say so. In particular, I’m looking for coming out stories from:
people of color;
people in other marginalized groups/ identities;
students (high school and college);
people in the military;
people in the clergy;
people in conservative and/or very religious communities;
people in liberal and/or more secular communities;
people who live in theocracies, or whose families live in theocracies
If there are other particular circumstances I haven’t listed here, and you think other people coming out as atheist in these circumstances would benefit from your experience, please say so.
Specific Kind of Information #6: If at all possible, please talk about what you think you did right, and/or what you think you did wrong. What, specifically, do you think made your coming out go better, or go worse? If you had it to do over, is there anything you would do differently?
Specific Kind of Information #7: How, if at all, did your coming-out experience change over time? Did the person/ people you came out to respond differently after a day, a few days, a month, a year, a few years? Did you have just one coming-out conversation, or more than one?
Specific Kind of Information #8: When you came out, were you connected with an atheist community — either online or in person?
Specific Kind of Information #9: How has your life changed since you came out? Are you, on the whole, happy that you came out, or do you regret it? Do you think it was the right decision? Do you think your answer to this question would change if you’d done it differently?
If there’s anything else you want to tell me about your experience of coming out atheist, please go ahead and do so.
And again: You don’t have to answer every one of these questions — if you do, it’ll help, but partial answers will also be very useful. Please don’t avoid answering at all just because you don’t have time or energy or inclination to give complete answers.
You can reply in the comments here — or, if you prefer more privacy, you can email me, at greta (at) gretachristina (dot) com. If you email me, please put the words “Coming Out” in the subject line.
BTW, if you read through the comments and think, “Oh, so-and-so’s story is really similar to mine, I don’t need to tell mine” — please, please, please, don’t think that. I want to hear every story that people want to tell. In fact, if certain kinds of stories come up over and over again, that will be very useful for me to know.
And also BTW: If you’re an atheist and you’re not out — I want to hear those stories, too. But I’m going to gather them separately, in a separate post.
Thanks for reading this whole post. Pouring out your heart begins — now!