Friday, April 11, the Gay-Straight-Alliance club as well as LGBTQ Leesville students and allies participated in a day of silence. Their silence serving as a symbol for the struggles LGBTQ youth endure in expressing their orientation and gender expression.
As a strong LGBTQ activist, I had to keep in mind that the day of silence was not simply a social experiment. One gains an appreciation for the struggles of in-the-closet or oppressed LGBTQ youth who feel silenced in their everyday lives.
Before participating, I had the romantic notion that being silent would insight inspirational remarks or that I would feel good for participating in a social cause important to me, but I was wrong. No inspirational remarks, mostly confusion and some solidarity amongst other silent participants, shattering my expectations with reality was the lesson.
Those who are out and are received positively don’t have to think about the shunning, anxiety and other disturbing side-effects of silence. Those who are not, do, constantly, every day, but are unable to express themselves, and some even resort to suicide. Being silent for one day may not change the way others interact with you, but it changes the way you think, the way you view communication and provides a brief understanding of the lives of silenced LGBTQ youth.
Throughout my day of silence, it took effort to effectively communicate with others through a notebook. As there was no natural conversational flow, I felt immensely anxious by someone attempting to communicate with me. However much being silent lacked upliftment, it taught a valuable lesson; words and verbal communication matter in order to foster empathy and solidarity among all peoples.
No one was able to read the tone in my voice and make conclusions or effectively interact in the positive and negative ways that humans can. Essentially, it feels as though you are all alone in your head and there are stone barriers reinforcing the isolation.
Frankly, the experience was incredibly difficult; I was yelled and heckled at by some people trying to provoke me into speaking, withheld myself from interesting conversations, small talk and thoughts and words seemed to blend together in my mind.
It was not a day I can truly say was lived, it was survived, and that is precisely the day of silence’s objective.