Six finish Day of Silence at Rock

Becky Olles

A loud scream filled the air as six students celebrated the end of the Day of Silence, sponsored by the LGBT Resource Center and Rainbow Alliance, at 7 p.m. Friday.

The Day of Silence, an annual nationwide event which took place April 17, is a protest against the discrimination of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students. From the moment the student participants woke up to when they spoke again that night, they did not say a word. Their silence is a way to “open people’s eyes,” said Jeff Geiger, a Weinberg freshman who participated this year.

“I think it’s important to be active on our own behalf,” he said. “I know when I was in the closet, I wouldn’t even talk about my political views or anything because I thought if people found out I was pro-gay rights they would think I was gay, which is ridiculous.”

Throughout the day, the students who participated handed out materials in Norris University Center and had a “die-in” protest at noon. At the “die-in,” six people wearing black laid on the ground near the Rock to represent the violence experienced by the LGBT community. Caroline Perry, the event co-organizer, said the protest was for visibility.

The Weinberg sophomore also said she found keeping silent all day fairly easy.

“During a discussion section I just about exploded,” she said. “Other than that, the not talking part really isn’t that difficult. It’s easy to get away from everyone and do work, so it doesn’t really make a difference.”

Geiger and David Weintraub, a Weinberg junior, used sign language to communicate with one another during the day. Weintraub said he found students responded well to his silence.

“People were actually really respectful about it,” he said.

At the breaking of the silence, the students gathered in a circle, held hands and counted down the final 10 seconds before bursting into a simultaneous scream. Afterward, some students shared their personal struggles about being part of the LGBT community. One student who wished to remain anonymous told a story about an attempt to start a gay-straight alliance club at a Catholic high school.

“I had a new adviser and I wanted the club to be recognized,” the student said. “He supported it all of the way, and I got it signed by the religion teachers in the department. It went to the religion board meeting, and he backed out at the last minute.”

Later, the student found out the adviser was gay.

“He’s gay; he’s an extremely closeted gay man,” the student said. “He would lose his job if he was ousted. It’s just so sad that he’s in a job where if his sexual orientation was found out, he would be fired.”

Though only six students attended the breaking of the silence, Perry said she knew more students took part.

“I do not have an estimation in terms of numbers because the Facebook group had 60 people attending,” she said. “But a lot of people don’t come to the breakdown.”

Weinberg junior Lyzanne Trevino took part in the event for the third time. She said her reasons for participating change each year.

“My friend just joined the Navy,” she said. “He’s openly gay, and he’s got to hide a part of himself for the next four years or be discharged. He’s practicing changing pronouns around now, and it’s really hard for him.”

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