Day of Silence Wrap-Up

26 04 2008

It was amazing.

We had an estimated 50-60 participating, although it was hard to gauge, because, it being a Friday afternoon, the turnout for Breaking the Silence wasn’t huge.

It was extremely powerful. At one point in the day, I thought “Damn! I am one of thousands and thousands doing this. And if I hadn’t organized this, there would be about 50 less people.” The responses were almost all positive – my law teacher was taunting me a bit as expected, but I had quite a few positive responses as well. And I saw quite a few teachers wearing their black ribbons. However, apparently some people called one of my friends a “fag”, which was really disheartening. Homophobia and transphobia are alive and well at my school, which is why I think we need to do the Day of Silence.

Did I mention that fate seemed to work perfectly in my favour? You see, kids, I had what can be assumed to be a meeting with some bad scallops the night before. Or something. I wasn’t horribly violently ill or anything, but my first thought was “Dear god, please do not let me have the stomach flu.” And I didn’t – so I guess it was some very mild food poisoning. Or something. I was mostly fine the next day, except for not being able to eat much, and my stomach feeling slightly unsettled.

And today, we have a surprise transit strike. I just found that out about five minutes ago. That’s what happens when you live on the internet and update your blog every day and don’t watch TV. Anyways, I got really lucky. Because if it had happened the day before, we’d have been screwed – almost nobody would be at school.

That hateful asshole Fred Phelps says that “God Hates Fags”. Well, obviously, if there is a god, he/she/they LOVE the Day of Silence.

All kidding aside, one girl, who’s straight, wrote this brilliant facebook note about her experiences doing the Day of Silence. I wish I could link to it – it really is amazing. Anyways, I think she hit the nail on the head when she said that being silent all day taught her how hard it is to be silent.

So I say we stand up and fight, until none of us are silenced.

A few pictures (there would have been more, except I couldn’t track everyone down to ask permission to put them on here):

Some of my friends:

Me, with a friend: (I’m on the right, in case everyone was wondering what I look like)

The folks who turned out for “Breaking the Silence”:

It was an amazing day.

I will be back to my normal ranting tomorrow. No worries.

Update: My friend Sinead wrote a great blog post about participating in the Day of Silence. Check it out here.





Day of Silence Countdown: BLAST-OFF!

25 04 2008

It’s today.

I’m completely silent as I’m writing this.

I will update more later when I have time.





Day of Silence Countdown: t-minus 1 day

24 04 2008

So the big day is tomorrow! Woo-hoo! I am excited beyond belief. It feels so big – much bigger than myself. We have about 50 participants… almost double last year’s participation. And almost 7,000 schools are registered as participating…wow. Although I’m not sure I believe in heaven, I hope Lawrence King is looking down on us and smiling.

I will do a full update with lots of pictures and an overview  of what happened, likely on Saturday. Until then, I leave you with this lovely PSA with Lance Bass. I have a friend who was in this – she’s the one in the green shirt. She is super-fabulous. And so is this PSA.

 





Day of Silence Countdown: t-minus 2 days

23 04 2008

First of all, I have no idea why the wordpress date function is iffy. Well, actually, I do, I just don’t know whether it’s fixed or not. Anyway, in case you were wondering, it’s the evening of Wednesday, April 23rd as I write this.

Only two more (okay more like, one and a half) days until the moment I’ve been waiting for. I am so excited it is unbelievable. Well, for those of you who don’t know, here’s how my day’s going to work on Friday:

8:00 to 9:00 A.M.: Day of Silence Prep. Hand out speaking cards, ribbons, and optional tape (you know, over the mouth) to Day of Silence participants.

9:00 A.M to 11:45 A.M.: Me, not talking. Weird, huh?

11:45 A.M. to 12:45 P.M.: Silent Lunch. Me, still not talking.

12:45 P.M. to 3:20 P.M.: More of me not talking. And likely being mercilessly mocked by my right-wing law teacher.

3:30 P.M. to 5:00 P.M. (approx): Breaking the Silence. Collective scream, debriefing, music, poetry, and munchies. What could be better?

5:15 P.M. to 6:30 P.M. (wild guess): A loosely organized after-party. Getting either sushi or Vietnamese food at a nearby restaurant. Yummy.

Jealous yet?

All kidding aside, the upcoming Day of Silence has made me think a lot. About a lot of things. Specifically, identity and community.

I tend to prefer the term “queer/trans” to the acronym, “LGBT”, because it’s a lot more inclusive. Although I have seen attempts to expand the acronym (sometimes, into something quite long), I always feel like we’re missing someone or something. For me, personally, LGBT isn’t that good a fit, because I define myself as “queer” rather than as lesbian. I have no problems with anyone defining themselves as the latter, but for me, personally, if you must pigeonhole me, I’m mostly “L” with some “B” tendencies. A 90-10 ratio I suppose. Still, I can’t help feeling like the acronym marginalizes me, as well as other people with more fluid sexualities and gender identities. And a lot of people who might have previously identified themselves as bisexual, identify as pansexual or omnisexual to recognize the fact that there are more than two genders. And a lot of people who are gender-variant don’t necessarily identify as trans, but in terms of gender, they still fall under the umbrella of “queer”. Where would a crossdresser fit? A partner of a trans person, who once considered themself straight, but stayed with their partner after transition? Someone who is mostly attracted to people of the other biological sex, but has “atypical” sexual preferences?

One of the things that’s been really disheartening lately is the tendency of some people in the “LGBT” community to shun others for not being part of their definitions of L, G, B, or T. As if to say, “Get the hell out of my community! Start your own damn movement!” And I find that quite sad. To me, the queer/trans community represents anyone who has an identity or preferences outside the norm when it comes to sexuality or gender. And anyone else who wants to come along, for that matter. Allies too! Really, when it comes to fighting for our rights – all of our rights – we need all the help we can get, so throwing others under the bus for not being part of our narrow definition of “community” is really not helpful.

One thing that struck me about the Day of Silence group, all 40 or so of them, is how diverse a group it is. Queer, straight, male, female, possibly other. All different races, ethnic groups and religions. Some students with disabilities. It wasn’t a homogenous group, by any stretch of the imagination. Well, except for the fact that they’re all high school students, which is self-evident.

I consider all of them part of my “community”. Because, on April 25th, we’ll all be fighting for the same thing.

(edited to fix confusing typo)





Day of Silence countdown: t-minus 3 days

23 04 2008

As most of you know by now, the Day of Silence is on Friday.

We had our sign up/informational meeting today, and guess what? We have about 40 participants in the event. Which is definitely good. They all seemed very enthusiastic as well, which was lovely.

And, thank god, no Day of Truth assholes, at least not to my knowledge. I mean, a few ‘phobes have been whining over facebook, but nobody has said anything negative to my face.

Also, for our “Breaking the Silence” event, a few people are presenting music/writing relevant to the theme. I’m reading one of Julia Serano’s poems; one of my friends (who is really talented), wants to perform a song. Think acoustic; vocals/guitar. Anyways, she doesn’t know what song she should do – any ideas for songs that relate to the themes of the day?

Anyways, I am very excited! I’ll keep you all posted on the developments.





The Black Ribbon Campaign: We Are Lawrence.

21 04 2008

I’m organizing my school’s Day of Silence, and as part of it, we’re giving out black ribbons in memory of Lawrence King.

Lawrence King was a 15-year-old who was murdered, two days before Valentine’s Day. He was shot, twice, in the back of the head. In a classroom. By a 14-year-old. Because he asked another boy out on a date. Because he liked to wear makeup. Because he was gay.

Lawrence, or “Larry” as he was known to his family and friends, was known to be a sweet, friendly boy. His school, in a suburban town in California, was known to be fairly “tolerant”. And yet, he was killed there, simply for being who he was.

There are so many others like him, who have been killed for being gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, queer, or simply who they are.

It could happen to you. It could happen to someone you know. Whether we’re queer or straight, trans or cis (non-trans), masculine, feminine, or something in between, it could happen to us.

We’re him. And he’s us.

We are Lawrence.

So, in his memory, I encourage you to wear a black ribbon. Not just for the Day of Silence, but everyday.  Here’s how you can make one:

Step 1: Get some supplies. Buy a spool of black ribbon; about 9mm in width is best. “Satin” finish works best, however, “gros grain” (the ridged kind) will work as well. Sheer or otherwise decorative kinds won’t work very well. Make sure it’s fabric ribbon, not curling ribbon. You can find ribbon at craft stores; alternatively, you can buy it by the yard at fabric stores. Also buy some straight pins; these are usually known as “household pins” or “dressmaker’s pins”, and you can buy them at the dollar store.

Step 1

Step 2: Measure a length of ribbon that would make a decent-sized lapel ribbon. if you have any other lapel ribbons lying around the house, you can use those as a template.

Step 2

Step 3: Cut this length of ribbon, preferably with a nice sharp pair of scissors.

Step 3

Step 4: Fold the ribbon over as shown.

Step 4

Step 5: Weave a pin through the centre of the folded ribbon as demonstrated.

Step 5

Step 6: Pin it on your shirt, your jacket, your backpack, or anything else.

Step 7: Repeat. A 5 metre spool of ribbon can make between 40 and 50 ribbons. Give them to your friends, family, teachers, students, classmates, co-workers, and whoever else.

Alternatively (or in addition) to wearing the actual ribbon, you can “wear” a virtual ribbon as well, just like the one in my sidebar. Simply copy and paste this code (delete the massive space between “a” and “href”, leaving only one space between them):

<a href=”http://www.rememberlarry.com”><img src=http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v612/DCbabe/wearelawrence.jpg border=”0″></a>

Paste it into your website, your blog, your myspace, your e-mail signature, or your message board signature. Alternately, you can save it, and use it as an avatar for MSN messenger, or any message boards you may happen to go on. Forward the link to this post to people you know, as well.

I really hope everyone reading this does this. It’s important, and it has to be said.

WE ARE LAWRENCE.





Thou Shalt Not Be a Bystander

13 04 2008

Today, I’m going to STAND (Students Taking Action Now: Darfur) Canada’s “Day For Darfur” rally here in Toronto. It’s a yearly, and nationwide (perhaps international; I don’t know if there are events taking place in the U.S. or elsewhere) event. Essentially, it’s to raise awareness of the genocide in Darfur.

People have finally begun to take notice of what’s happening in Darfur. (To learn more, click here). But it’s not enough.

Over 400,000 people have died. 400,000. Do you have any idea how big a number that is? That’s more than 100 September 11ths. That’s over 10,000 Virginia Tech massacres. I always found it sadly ironic that North Americans were gripped by the media coverage after the shooting, when the same media turns a blind eye to genocide in other parts of the world. The people of Darfur are living inside their own Virginia Tech shooting, every day. Why aren’t more people speaking up?

I’m just one person, and part of me doubts that a bunch of us protesting at Nathan Phillips Square will do much. But it’s better than nothing. So I am going to go downtown, march, and scream my lungs out, along with a group of people doing the same, and hope the world hears us.

“‘Thou shall not be a victim. Thou shall not be a perpetrator. Above all, thou shall not be a bystander.”

-Yehuda Bauer, Holocaust historian