I’m not gay, but I’ve always identified with gay people. We share a sort of bond in that we are both part of a fringe group – though gays got more persecution in the last century.
Long ago, I came across the term “flaming atheist.” I really like the distinction. For those who aren’t aware of the nuance of the word “flaming,” it implies obvious.
A flaming homosexual (especially a self-styled one) is someone who embodies the stereotypes we expect. They are also not shy about revealing their sexuality, and may even volunteer it for no apparent reason.
It was this characteristic of the term I liked. There’re many degrees to which an atheist is “out of the closet.” Some are quiet about it, especially in certain circles of people like co-workers and family. However, there’s a difference between being “out” upon request and being “out” without prompting.
I have been a flaming atheist since high school. I can’t even hide the fact that I’m an atheist in most situations – it’s like I have heathen Tourette’s. Maybe I’m lucky, but I have never experienced anything I would consider persecution (outside of my mother’s insistence I be Confirmed in the Catholic Church, oh the horror). Then again, I never lived in the South – although Indiana is pretty close.
Being a flaming atheist does not necessarily mean being a recruiter. I think actively trying to change someone’s mind is ineffective unless they are looking for something new, especially among strangers and casual acquaintances. Having some connection to the person helps, but why subject your friends and family to something as annoying as proselytizing, even if it “works?”
People just want to be happy, and if forcing your worldview on someone makes them unhappy, what are the chances they will embrace it? The best way to “convert” people is to simply live your chosen ethic successfully and happily.