This April 15, an annual youth-led day of silence will take place in an effort to bring attention to anti-LGBT violence and rhetoric. While the action has been around since the 1970’s, GLSEN became the official organizational sponsor in 2001.
Unpopular opinion time: The LGBT Day of Silence isn’t helpful and is kind of ironic.
Being quiet as a means to give a voice does very little to open up a dialogue about the issues facing LGBT people. Why? Because you’re quite literally saying nothing while maybe wearing a sign explaining why you’re saying nothing. You’re putting the work in the hands of passerby to follow the link you plastered on a flyer to educate themselves. Here’s something I’ve learned in my 6 years of being involved in activism- no one wants to do the work. There are very few people who care about sitting down on their computer at home and reading up on the abuses of marginalized people for the sake of educating themselves and in the few instances there are people who choose to do so, they often don’t know where to start or what to do in order to change anything.
Being silent doesn’t push the status quo and it doesn’t educate.
LGBTQ people are continuously hushed, ostracized, and pushed out of spaces and conversations that directly affect them. Trans and gender nonconforming people are often erased or pushed out from queer spaces by their own community members. This so-called *LGBT Community™* lumps all of these letters together, but often doesn’t differentiate between the larger, more visible *Cis, White, Gay Men™* community and everyone else.
If we talk about a particularly oppressed group like trans women, we talk about them dying. There are few exceptions (see: Janet Mock’s #GirlsLikeUs and #TransIsBeautiful) to this trend and conversation surrounding how to better protect the marginalized people within the already marginalized group too many times goes unnoticed.
You know that thing White women love to tell Black women about how they’re being “divisive” because they’re bringing up intersectionality? Well, Cis, White, Gay Men™ love to do the same thing! QTPoC in particular are often called “too radical” for asking for basic decency, acknowledgement, and opportunity. We’ve been told to “be patient” and wait for “marriage equality” because somehow that will magically fix everything for us queers.
More Radical Reads: A Letter to the Who Exclude Trans and Non-binary People From Safe Spaces
Unpopular opinion time (again): marriage equality didn’t make us equal.
What marriage equality did was encourage us to be better capitalists and to be even better assimilationists. It also ignored the fact that many of us who have fluid interpretations of our gender would find the conversation surrounding “same-sex marriage” incredibly reductive and triggering.
SO! What can we do to improve the lack of meaningful discourse surrounding the needs of the queer community? How do we end the silencing of LGBTQ people in an effective and motivating way? HERE COMES THE LISTICLE!
Know What The Problems Are
It’s important that you listen to what is being said by the people directly affected by anti-LGBTQ behaviors. Not 100% on some of the language we’re using? Can’t quite wrap your head around why marriage equality is a form of assimilation? You’re in luck! Someone has probably written an article breaking it down. You might even find some of those articles here on http://thebodyisnotanapology.
All that reading too much on your eyes? It’s okay, there are podcasts and video series that break down these concepts into a more digestible format. If you can’t find anything after that, just give me some time. I’m probably writing an article about it anyway.
It’s vital you approach new information with an open mind. If you want to advocate for a group, you need to know who you’re advocating for. The issues that affect LGBT people aren’t necessarily going to be issues that affect those who aren’t LGBT. If you aren’t LGBT and aren’t understanding why federal protections against workplace/medical/ housing discrimination are more important than the legalization of marriage equality, well, just accept you might never “get” it. That doesn’t mean it isn’t still vital to the survival and wellbeing of queer people.
Use Your Place In Privileged Spaces To Create More Intersectional Environments
Part of the LGB and want to help out the TQ? Cool! Make sure you carve out a space during your next GSA meeting for trans and gender nonconforming people to talk about what their needs are. Overheard a friend make a transmisogynist joke? Shut that shit down. Saw a terrible post on Facebook? Link an educational article.
What really makes you an ally is behavior. Being quiet when harmful and abusive rhetoric rears its ugly head only allows that abuse to continue. Silence allows problems to fester when in many cases a simple explanation of “that’s oppressive and inappropriate, lemme explain” might be all it takes to stop hatefulness in its tracks.
It’s not up to movements to make space for those who benefit from the oppression of others. Movements uplift those who need uplifting, so… try not to make this about you.
More Radical Reads: Transitioning While Non-binary
Petition for a Day Of Discourse
Since I’ve made my distaste for the Day of Silence pretty clear, I want to propose something a little more productive.
Instead of waiting for others to notice you’ve been quiet and asking, “hey, why aren’t you talking?,” let’s try making the promotion of LGBTQ+ safety as hypervisible as possible. Put the information in the hands of those who need it. Organize a march or bring a speaker to your university to talk about the restrictive legislation being passed to limit trans/GNC people’s access to public restrooms. Table at a community event. Start a fundraiser to donate to organizations working on a national and global level to end LGBTQ+ inequality.
You have an endless amount of creative outlets with which you can spread a message of love and acceptance.
Support is an ongoing effort and speaking up is the best way show it!
Are you a LGBTQ person struggling with your identity? Or, are you learning how to be a better ally? Join us for our next workshop 10 Tools To Radical Self Love Webinar on April 16th.[Feature Image: A black and white image of a person from the neck up as they look ahead at the camera with a small smirk. The person has long brown hair falling pass their shoulders. Pexels.com]