Today is the Day of Silence.
Sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), participants pass the whole day without speaking, to promote awareness for and to support the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and genderqueer people who, due to the threat of bullying and punishment — due to homophobia and transphobia — dare not speak for themselves.
I’ve wanted to participate for a few years, but this is the first time I have. I have not spoken all day, and even my textual online communication has been kept to a minimum.
A couple of days ago, I received a phone call reminding me I had a dentist appointment this morning. I considered rebooking it; I considered not doing the Day of Silence again. I thought, for a moment, that it would be a lot of trouble. That it would be an inconvenience for the people around me.
And then I thought,
It should be. That’s the point.
It should be an inconvenience for the people around me. First of all, I shouldn’t be hemming and hawing about inconveniencing others when the homophobia of others has “inconvenienced” me all my life. If they have to deal with trying to interact with me while I’m not speaking to them, well, they can deal with it. Secondly, if someone is “inconvenienced” by my lack of verbal communication today, maybe that’s a story they’ll tell when they go home tonight, and through that, I’ve spread awareness for the issue.
I refuse to speak today because there are too many who dare not speak. Being gay still carries the death penalty in seven countries, and it is illegal in 73 others. But even right here at home, homophobic and transphobic bullying is widespread and extremely damaging.
When I was in high school, I didn’t want to go to the Gay-Straight Alliance because I knew I’d immediately be tagged as gay, and Iwas terrified of that happening. I was bullied for enough as it was without adding that to the pile.
I don’t know if I can make it much clearer than this: kids are too afraid to be themselves, to be honest and open and healthy.
I am not speaking today because I stand with those who dare not.