I posted the question above on Model Railroad Forums and received a number of responses. Below find some samples; you can see all the posts at http://www.modelrailroadforums.com/forum/showthread.php?t=18722
"I'm happy to tell anyone that I participate in the model railroading hobby. If they are inquisitive, I'm happy to tell them about it and show them some of my work . . . if they are dismissive, they aren't worth worrying about . . . I think we do a greater disservice to ourselves when we are afraid to be who we are; there's enough dishonesty in the world as it is."
"I rarely give it a second thought. I have train and depot photos in my office at work, I have one of the Hallmark Great American Locomotives in a case on my desk, so most of my co workers know that I am interested in Trains and models. When an opportunity to discuss MR comes up lI am more than ready to show my interest, though I don't go around pushing it on others."
"I never hesitate to mention I'm into model railroading if the occasion occurs."
"A few of my friends think my modeling is sort of stupid, but I think the same about them still playing pokemon, so it's all good."
"I don't know if I'd bring it up on a first date , but I don't go out of my way to hide it."
"Like you, I don't go out of my way to announce it; just like I don't about my other interests and hobbies."
"While I don't walk around town wearing a sandwich board with I'M A MODEL RAILROADER! painted on it I'm not ashamed of it either."
"I learned a long time ago that trying to explain it (or almost any hobby) was pointless. Those who think it strange aren't worth bothering with; and my true friends are more than accepting."
"It seems like competitive hobbies are more 'acceptable' for guys - golf, tennis, sailing, martial arts, hunting, fishing. People (usually) don't blink an eye if you tell them you're going deepsea fishing in the Keys or you just dropped $1,000 on a new set of clubs. Try telling somebody you dropped $500 on a brass steam engine."
"I'm not ashamed necessarily, it just isn't something people are use to hearing. It requires some explanation in order for them to grasp what it is that I do. Besides, I really am just playing with trains."