For those who may not be aware, today is the Day of Silence, held to commemorate the silence that many in the LGBTQ community feel they must maintain in order to live peacefully in their respective communities. Established in 1996 by a group of University of Virginia students as a way of
standing up against the enforced silence that many LGBTQ participate in about their true selves, it is now a national event that focuses on anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in schools. Students of a range of ages take a vow of silence as part of this day of silence to encourage schools and classmates to help bring the problem of anti-LGBT behavior into the open and demonstrate the impact that this enforced silence has on those in the LGBTQ community. This year, though, it is an event that has been marred by ongoing gay bashing.
March 25 saw the breaking news of a group of students from the Easy School in the Siberian town of Irkutsk stage a flash mob and because they were dressed in kilts, there was a group of youth who came up to them and expressed that they were not happy with what they were doing. A fight broke out, and while police were called and said that the fight erupted because of a misunderstanding. The attackers believed that those participating in the flash mob were gay and as such, they had seen an opportunity to teach the group a lesson. A teacher with the group ended up with a concussion.
Two days ago, on April 9, a Chilean gay man died after being in a coma for months after being beaten simply because of his sexual orientation. Although Chile had signed hate crime legislation into effect back in 2012, there apparently continues to be gay-related hate crime that is ongoing in the country, but the problem is not unique to Chile.
This year’s Day of Silence was preceded by an episode of Glee in which main character Kurt attempts to intervene in a gay bashing. It was likely one of the few times the topic has been dealt with in mainstream media. Certainly, while Glee has been noted for dealing with a range of LGBTQ issues, it has never tackled the extreme topic of gay bashing. However, the show should get some credit for trying to deal with the issue, and it was definitely nice to see Kurt stand up for what he felt was right.
The Day of Silence, though, may only serve to remind some that there continues to be those who believe that it is appropriate and even right to beat those in the LGBTQ sector of the population. While the Day of Silence is about the enforced silence that those who are lesbian or gay or bi or trans or even questioning feel they have to go through in order to live peacefully in their worlds, it is also a painful reminder that the world around us continues to be a dangerous one in many respects for the LGBTQ population. There are certainly organizations that truly work towards helping the LGBTQ populace deal with the various issues they have to go through daily; the Trevor Project, It Gets Better, GLSEN, PFLAG are only a few of the countless organizations out that are designed to provide support for those individuals who identify as LGBTQ and their loved ones. The Day of Silence is a wonderful idea, and it has certainly garnered a great deal of support over the 18 years since it began, but it is also a day which is marred by ongoing reminders of the gay bashing that continues in the world. One day, perhaps, everyone can participate in the Day of Silence without feeling crippled by the violence that continues against that segment of the population, but what remains clear is that there is still a lot of work to be done about the notion of equality and acceptance for all.
By Christina St-Jean
International Business Times