by Jenny Tang ’20
When I go to school, I step out of Boston’s Logan Airport. When I go back home, I land at the San Francisco International Airport.
Splitting my time near two of the most liberal cities in two of the most liberal states, one can say that I live a sheltered life: I have confronted overt homophobia neither in my school or home community. I have a voice. And when the immediate environment is so accepting, it is easy to forget that the reality can be otherwise.
But reality can be otherwise. It is otherwise in countless parts of the world, numerous states in this country, and even right under my nose. Individuals there do not have a voice. 74 countries outlaw homosexual activities; 30 states allow employment discrimination based on sexuality and gender identity. These are merely the legalities. Many more people see being LGBTQ+ as a spreading sickness to be cured.
My impression of acceptance by my entire local community was eventually shattered. Some parents in my old middle school have a group chat which my mom joined. One day last year, she sent me an excerpt of their chat history—a parent was appalled by how the school’s sex-ed teachers told the students that being LGBTQ+ is normal. This comment was joined later by many others who affirmed that the school is converting their children into mentally-illed. One parent came to LGBTQ+’s defense, but after the opposition drowned her reply in insults, she never commented again.
Though I still believe that rejection is in the minority in my local community, this event disillusioned me. It reminded me that, sometimes, the world is otherwise. Individuals there do not have a voice.
I guess that’s what the Day of Silence means to me. Our silence throughout the day resonated with the silence of the LGBTQ+ community in countless parts of the world and reminded us of the work yet to be done. Trapped in a liberal bubble like St. Mark’s where one can take the acceptance for granted, we do need reminders like this.
Voices. But sometimes, silence is so much louder.