Over the years, I've written a few essays entitled "Why I am an Atheist" or something along the same lines, but after making numerous attempts to start the one to answer PZ Myers' challenge, I realized that I am no longer comfortable with that phrasing to describe myself. Not because it is not useful and not because I do not like it (I do - and I think those essays are enormously helpful and inspiring), but because my own earlier efforts under that very title were so embarrassingly accommodationist, so desperate to be accepted (and therefore so dishonestly flattering to theists), that I simply must do something a little different now.
The road from shrinking, fearful accommodationism to bold, brave honesty has been rocky, lonely and often frightening. I am still standing in the shadows at the last turn in the path, uncertain if I am ready to step out into the light. But, I am certain that my days of explaining myself and begging the community to understand and accept me are over. I may quietly reveal my true thoughts to a few trusted friends and family members or I may choose to remain silent for a few more years, even with them. Whatever I do say, however, will be stated with simple positivity.
I am atheist.
I am female, I am someone's mother, wife, sister, friend. I think, I write, I breathe. I am atheist.
Being atheist is just one part of who I am, and it is only significant because of the culture in which we live. Humanity's obsession with deities makes an outlier of one who does not share the obsession. And outliers make the majority feel uneasy. Atheism is far more significant and noteworthy to theists than to atheists, I think, and the constant cultural pressure to justify our apostasy - our freedom from god-obsession - mostly explains our need for some sort of community with other atheists. We are not really "like-minded"; we are as individual and varied in our interests and our philosophies as theists are. What we share is that we are not theists. But, in this religion-cursed world that is a huge thing.