‘Day of Silence’ should be day to speak up

One gay teen writes about what it's like to "be in the closet."

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Editor’s Note: This article was previously published in the 2014 April edition of  The Lancer Spirit.

 

Every day is a ‘Day of Silence’ for the kids who are being ‘supported’ by this event. Why glorify one day of the year when the other 364 are the exact same? Being quiet is the absolutely most ineffective thing in the world. ”

— Andrew Collins, Class of 2014

Being gay, it may seem odd—even homophobic of me—to think the “Day of Silence” is beyond useless, and in a way, almost insulting. But the word “homophobic” is not a word I would call myself for having this thought.

Now imagine someone straight saying that about the “Day of Silence.” I am fairly certain that “homophobic” would be thrown around quite quickly. However, as thankful as I am that the odd ones out are now the anti-gay people, it’s time to step back and think about what we’re saying.

Disagreeing with the “Day of Silence” doesn’t necessarily make someone homophobic if they have good intentions.

I understand perfectly that those who partake in the silence have their hearts in the right place, but there are more effective ways to go about showing support for LGBT students.

For the straight allies who were silent for a day, it is understandable that you wouldn’t be able to place yourself in the shoes of a non-straight student; however, I can explain what it’s like to be in the closet.

You wake up in bed, open your eyes and for the first few moments of being half-asleep, you feel ready to take on anything. However, before you even get out of bed, you put on your “straight mask.”

It seems heavier than when you had it on yesterday, and even yesterday it felt heavier and thicker than the day before. It’s getting so thick, that to see out of it seems like looking down a long tunnel with a clear view of the outside world all the way at the end.

But every day it’s just a bit farther away.
You get to school, go to your friends and joke around and talk with them like normal, saying things like “no homo,” “that’s pretty gay,” and “fag.”

Each word makes the mask feel just a bit heavier, thickening it further. You carry on the day with it getting bigger until finally you crawl into bed, exhausted, and take it back off, seeing how it’s grown over the day.

It’s exhausting.

There’s enough silence in the lives of those struggling with being somewhere on the LGBT-spectrum. Why would the kids in the closet, wishing they had a voice, want their “supporters” with the ability to scream, to keep quiet, zipping their mouths shut, locking away whatever help they can truly offer?

When anyone said homophobic slurs back when I still wore my “straight mask,” do you think the first thing I wanted to hear was silence from the rest of the class?

No.

Their silence was actually a nod of acceptance to what was just said, so I remained silent too, wishing deep down someone would just
say something to show everyone that those slurs are not okay.

Every day is a “Day of Silence” for the kids who are being “supported” by this event. Why glorify one day of the year when the other 364 are the exact same? Being quiet is the absolutely most ineffective thing in the world.

Revolutions and progress do not start with a group of people shutting their mouths.

If you want to help, call out the person who just said something homophobic, attend actual events where the goal is to support LGBT rights and think for yourself about what is being said, not about who said it.

The “Day of Silence” is like taking a step forward on a treadmill. I mean, you definitely took a step forward, but you didn’t move at all.

This goes out to you, whoever you are, wearing your heavy mask, suffering in the silence you know all too well.

Just don’t forget that when you finally do take the mask off, the world is a hell of a lot brighter than what it’s been for you while behind it.

 

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