It is always difficult to use your voice to speak up for your needs and I am no different. But it wasn’t until I decided to silence myself that I realized how important it was to speak out.
When I was in high school, I wasn’t necessarily in the closet, but I didn’t outright say I was bisexual. I’ve known for a long time — I always assumed everyone was attracted to everyone — so being active about speaking up for equal rights was natural to me. However, I went to a Catholic high school, and while people were fairly open minded, it was still a toss up as to whether or not people would torment you or tolerate you if you were “out.” Couple this with the fact that there was no GSA (but a pro-life group) and you will understand my hesitation in being “out and proud.”
Even though I wasn’t confused per say, I still wasn’t sure exactly how to describe what I was feeling. Through the magic of Google I stumbled upon the GLSEN website, because when you are finding a label to describe how you feel, Google is your BFF. It was at this time I read about their Day of Silence and decided to participate. Even though I was really close to the cut off date and had no one else to join me, I thought “whatever, I’ll do it anyway.” I signed myself up and made little notes to pass out explaining what I was doing and why. I even brought a whiteboard to school with me to assist me in participating in class if mandatory.
The day approached and I was prepping myself to participate. My friends were all supportive but didn’t necessarily want to participate (which is understandable). I was relatively well liked in high school so I didn’t think anything bad would come of it. But I was wrong.
Luckily, there was no physicality to what I experienced that day. But the type of microaggressions people threw my way made me uncomfortable and changed my approach to discussing the topic from not doing it at all to being louder and more aggressive. The people at my school went out of their way to try to get to me to speak. I don’t think I had as many people talk to me during my four year tenure at my school as I did on the day I decided to not speak.
It angered me that people went out of their way to try and make me speak. Pestering me, bombarding me with questions, and stopping me to try to get me to ask them to move out of the way were a few of the ways they tried to get me to break my silence. My peers didn’t care or respect what I was doing — which is all too typical for people. Scared of something they don’t have knowledge of, but don’t want to have to challenge their predispositions. It is easier to mock and ridicule those who are different or want to make a difference than to change how you view the world.
Things went back to normal the next day – I was more or less ignored, I participated in class, but a fire had been started in my heart that I haven’t quelled since. I have participated in every Day of Silence since that day and every other day I use my voice to promote the struggles and challenges that are felt by the LGBTQ+ community. I’m vocal about my wants and needs as a bisexual woman.
There is importance in recognizing those who have been silenced and using the technique of silence to prove a point. But there is also a need for those who have a voice, a platform, and people willing to listen to spread their wisdom. This doesn’t mean that they should be subjugated to abuse or having to answer questions that could easily be answered through a search engine. But it does mean patience, understanding, and teaching.
I use my voice to discuss issues surrounding the LGBTQ+ community and how it intersects with feminism. What do you use your voice for?
You can sign up for GLSEN’s Day of Silence and participate in taking a stand against the silencing effects of bullying against the LGBTQ+ community.