Dozens of UM students tied red bandannas around their arms and took part in the Day of Silence Project, a national youth movement protesting the silence faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender [GLBT]people and their allies.
“By going silent for a day, we are helping demonstrate the silence that is forced on the GLBT people every day,” Christopher Vasquez said in a written statement. “We just want to raise awareness of the issues we face.”
Vasquez is the president of SpectrUM, the University association that recognizes and celebrates individual differences in sexual identity, orientation and behavior.
Throughout the week, SpectrUM volunteers passed out the standard red armbands and “silence cards” to interested passersby in the UC breezeway.
The silence cards were intended to be given by a silent volunteer to others as a substitute for conversation.
“My deliberate silence echoes that silence, which is caused by harassment, prejudice, and discrimination,” the cards read. “I believe that ending the silence is the first step toward fighting these injustices. Think about the voices you are not hearing today.”
The cards then propose a challenge: “What are you going to do to end the silence?”
As a result of the day’s events, many participants began to understand the struggles that many people may encounter when faced with discrimination.
“Most gay people are in the closet. In other words, they are silent,” Frank J. Corbishley, the Episcopalian Chaplain at UM, said. “They are silent because they are afraid of how people will react to them.”
Corbishley was one of few adults wearing a red armband and supporting the cause.
“By being silent, I am trying to empathize with them,” Corbishley said.
Corbishley hopes that students benefited from the Day of Silence.
“I’m also hoping that people will get the message that silence in the face of prejudice and hatred is destructive,” he said. “No one should have to be afraid.”
Sam Lockhart can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.