I need your stories, and your advice!
I’ve already gathered lots of coming-out stories for my new book — a how-to guide about coming out atheist, “Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why.” Thanks so much to everyone who took the time to tell me your stories! All of it is hugely useful and illuminating, and all of it is going in the book — even if I don’t quote you directly.
But there’s a particular kind of information/ story that I’m finding myself in need of. An entire section of my book is devoted, not to how we ourselves can come out, but to how we can help each other come out. So I want to ask you all a new question:
How (if at all) did other people help you come out atheist/ agnostic/ humanist/ skeptic/ freethinker/ other sort of non-believer? And how (if at all) have you helped others come out?
IMPORTANT NOTE: By “coming out atheist,” I do not mean “deciding/ realizing/ accepting that you don’t believe in any gods.” I mean, very specifically, “telling other people that you don’t believe in any gods.” I’m fascinated by stories of how we’ve helped each other realize that there are no gods — but that’s not what this book is about. This book is about being more open about our non-belief.
If anyone else helped you come out as an atheist — who did it, and how? Was it a friend, a family member, a colleague or fellow student? Was it a community — in the flesh, or online? Was it a writer, a videoblogger, a podcaster, a community leader, or someone else you never met but whose ideas or example you found helpful? Was there something specific that they said or did that helped you? Did they give you useful advice, practical assistance, a sympathetic ear, a supportive community, something else? Was it them simply being an out atheist that helped you?
And if you have ever helped someone else come out as an atheist — who did you help, and how? Was it a friend, a family member, a colleague or fellow student? Was it a community — in the flesh, or online? Was there something specific that you said or did that helped them? Did you give useful advice, practical assistance, a sympathetic ear, a supportive community, something else? Was it simply being an out atheist that they said helped them?
Related question: Was there anything that someone else did to try to help you come out atheist — or that you did to try to help someone else — that wasn’t actually helpful, and/or that actually made things more difficult?
And if the answer is “No” — nobody has ever helped you or tried to help you in your process of coming out atheist, and/or you’ve never helped or tried to help anyone else — and you think your answer and the particulars of it are instructive or interesting, please share that as well.
If you have more than one story, please feel free to tell me as many as you like.
It’d be helpful to tell me some details about your story or stories: where you and the other person/ people lived, or any other demographics — yours and/or theirs — that you think might be relevant (age, race, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, economic class, type of workplace if it’s a workplace story, etc.)
Also — 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.)
You can reply in the comments here — or, if you prefer more privacy, you can email me, at gcgreta (at) doubtfulpalace (dot) com. If you email me, please put the words “Coming Out” in the subject line.
BTW, if you read through the comments here 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.
Thanks so much! Your time starts… now!