Friday, April 20, 2012

The Day of Silence

Today in history- Hitler was born, Columbine happened, the Day of Silence occurred in 2012. I suppose the last event seems relatively minor in comparison but I think the events before it are enough reason to host it then. Both show the effects of hatred and cruelty.

Today, I participated in this event as a straight ally. I took the whole deal- both the silence and the duct tape- and I don't regret it.

I got a much more positive response than I had anticipated. While I did get dirty looks and a few stupid comments, it was all much milder than I expected. My teachers were all very supportive and my one teacher lauded the cause in front of the whole class. I did get the assholes but I just gave them the finger and moved on.

Many people asked me why I did this, even though they themselves support gay rights. The answer is multifaceted and a bit complicated.

I think the main reason I wanted to do this was because I am trying to give the voiceless a voice. Every time someone would pass me by, I would remind them about the cause I was fighting for. They may not have liked that reminder and they may be hostile towards it. They probably didn't care and won't change. But so what? By putting the duct tape across my mouth, I was giving them visibility. I was saying that LGBT youth and their allies exist and are a more prominent force than most people think. It wasn't even just LGBT youth, or at least it wasn't to me. In a way, I personally felt like I was personally venting my frustrations over all those times when I too felt voiceless. It's saying that the voiceless exist.

I think the Day of Silence is also a way of giving LGBT youth hope too. It says, "There are those who are out there like you and there are also those out there who support you for who you are." For a lonely, bullied person, that can mean the world. And if one of those people can feel something from this, we have made a difference. One closeted person who has hope.

We were all one voice. We were saying in a very clear way that we believed that homophobia is wrong. That bullying is wrong and that it hurts. This wasn't just a small number of people, either. I passed people with duct tape over their mouths multiple times today and I'm sure that there were more out there silent who didn't wear duct tape. We were saying that there are allies out there who care about gay rights as straight people.

Visibility is a bigger deal than many people thinking. When one is invisible, that is all they want. Today we gave invisible people acknowledgement, saying that they exist and their plight is real. It's a simple thing but it can have effects greater than people realize. At the very least, the Day of Silence was an acknowledgement of what was going on. It also got people talking as soon as I walked down the halls. This is a conversation starter and it's a way of speaking out for what we believe in without actually speaking out.

When thousands of American teenagers speak out, it sends a very clear message. It's telling everyone that the world is changing. It gets news organizations talking, which raises awareness for the people who are watching those organizations.

So was this a success? Was this something? Absolutely.

The Day of Silence isn't over for me, by the way. I'm totally bringing this up in my Social Studies class tomorrow and urging my teacher to talk about it as a current event.

As I wrote on one girl's page when she thanked me for participating, LGBT rights are human rights. We are all human beings and we all deserve the right to  be who we are, love who we want to love, and have some fun while we're at it. LGBT youth included.

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