Day of Silence: None for Me, Thanks

So as you may know, tomorrow is the “queer holiday” Day of Silence. While they won’t let you out of work for it, it’s still something you may choose to observe and participate in. So what is it?

Day of Silence is a day meant to bring attention to queerphobia (transphobia and homophobia) at schools and other educational institutions. According to the offical Day of Silence website by GLSEN:

In 1996, students at the University of Virginia organized the first Day of Silence in response to a class assignment on non-violent protests with over 150 students participating in this inaugural event. In 1997, organizers took their effort nationally and nearly 100 colleges and universities participated. In 2001, GLSEN became the official organizational sponsor for the event.

In practice, people involved in Day of Silence remain quiet and, when asked why they aren’t speaking, point to a button somewhere on their person or hand out cards/pamphlets about Day of Silence and why it is necessary. Many campuses end the day with a teach-in or presentation about bullying or homelessness–really anything having to do with the disenfranchisement of youth.

While many people on campuses across the United States recognize and support Day of Silence as it was intended, others have criticisms and observe it in a different way. Originally this post was meant to be solely informative, but as I wrote and inquired, it seemed that contemporary queers are a tad more vocal than the Day of Silence permits.

I asked you all to speak up on the Day of Silence

Here were your responses:

Marcus (EastEndChild)

Dia Materialista (@diamaterialista)

Jayy Dodd (@JayyDodd)

Reina (@ReinaAtlantico)

https://twitter.com/ReinaAtlantico/status/585411173937385472

Andressa (@CYBERSTALIN)

Josh Lee (@j_manasa)

Marcus (@MarcusInE17)

So let’s look at what all these points of view have in common: To choose silence on this day is a privilege.

If you are not “out” to your family, friends or work, you may have suspicion cast on you and the likelihood of being homeless or unemployed (or just living in a toxic environment) increases. If you are already a part of a silenced marginalized group based on your race or religion, choosing silence can be seen as almost the ultimate de-arming of yourself in the face of attacks–attacks that can be really triggering of past queerphobic violence. There’s also the idea that we already have very little say in our day to day lives, so why glorify the act of silence?

When we take white supremacy, cis-normitivity, male-domination and heteronormativity into account, it becomes abundantly clear that “Day of Silence” is an observance whose narrative says that, prior to your voluntary silence, your voice was valued and you were deemed human because people are supposed to notice your silence. What does it say when historically silenced people continue to be silent and revel in it?

So while Day of Silence may be seen as taking a bold stand (and it is probably effective at some levels of society), many don’t feel like it’s as big a bag a chips as it is made out to be. And while it is certainly your choice to observe and practice it or not, know that there are reasons that some people do not find it the least bit applicable to their daily lives and don’t do that thing where you shame people for having different opinions or accuse them of not contributing to “unity”.

It ain’t cute and it ain’t contemporary.

*Featured image courtesy of anacriszim.

5 Queer Holidays You NEED to Know!

All communities have observations that are symbolic, so why should queer folk be any different? Globally, we have reached a critical turning point in so many ways so quickly that it’s pretty mind-boggling. There’s still a LOT of work that needs to be done, but between all of our strides for liberation, there’s time to recognize our triumphs and remember those who’ve been lost on the way. So without further ado, here are 5 queer holidays you need to be on top of!

International Transgender Day of Visibility

On March 31, folks raise awareness of trans discrimination and, more importantly, celebrate trans people–their lives, their experiences, the promise of a bright future. It was founded in 2009 by Michigan activist Rachel Crandall who lamented that, until that point, there had only been Transgender Day of Remembrance, which served to mourn the loss of trans lives. ITDoV celebrates life, living, and the future.

Day of Silence

Typically observed on the third Friday of April, Day of Silence is observed in solidarity with youth who were and are being bullied by remaining silent. In my experience, this has been in addition to wearing buttons or handing out cards explaining the reason for your silence. Typically the cards come with a call to action, telling them to go to a website to find more information or attend a local/campus event.

LGBTQ Pride Month

queer pride month, lgbtq,You know what this is! Pride Month is celebrated in June. It’s basically a build up to the main event: The Pride Parade. It’s meant to show everyone “we’re here, we’re queer!” And that’s about as far as most agreement goes for it. For some people, the parade is too out of hand and showy. For others, it’s served its purpose and should be terminated. For others still, it’s celebratory for all the wrong reasons. But that’s an entire post in and of itself.

Queer History Month

Observed in October (February in the UK), Queer History Month is a month-long remembrance of our collective historical narratives and triumphs. It’s also a time to go out and learn more. You can learn to complicate your understandings of history, broaden your scope to learn about struggles in other communities in your country or internationally, and discover how the past has shaped the present and what you can do to contribute to the future.

Intersex Awareness Day

intersex symbol, intersex pride,According to the now-defunct Intersex-awareness-day.org, IAD is observed on October 26:

Intersex Awareness Day is the (inter)national day of grass-roots action to end shame, secrecy and unwanted genital cosmetic surgeries on intersex children.

“Intersex” refers to a series of conditions where a person’s genetalia is “ambiguous” and the person can’t be “neatly” defined as male or female. Intersex is  shrouded in misinformation and ignorance by the larger society (but it doesn’t have to be) and many intersex people are subjected to controversial “treatments” that include surgery, hormones, and in some cases sterilization. The holiday is about bringing visibility to a spectrum of people fighting erasure and battling misinformation in all its forms.

Conclusion

We kept this list short for the sake of brevity, but there are plenty of other observances out there. And remember: All these holidays started because of community action and the need to honor, respect, and advance ourselves. What holidays would you add to this list and which “established” ones would you recommend for the next list?