Home > LGBT, Social > Entry 04/22/2011 12:00:33 PM – Mentat 611

Entry 04/22/2011 12:00:33 PM – Mentat 611


My definition of an expert in any field is a person who knows enough about what’s really going on to be scared.” – PJ Plauger

So it came to my attention (a couple of days earlier and then again a couple of days after the fact) that last Friday was supposed to be some sort of National Day of Silence within the LGBT community. As a long time activist and oftentimes outspoken queer for the last 31 years of my life, I find myself almost disgusted about the nature of this activity, mostly because it was in silence that we as a “community” hid from the likes of everyone keeping our sexual identities hidden from the rest of the world. We had ingrained within our generation by the generation before us that silence = death; not only because of AIDS and the ravages caused by it, but also because in silence we hide in shame, afraid of being ourselves, for fear of repercussion and oppression by those that do not understand. It was ingrained into us that we should speak out, be loud, be ourselves… If confronted with adversity to speak out against it, in being bullied to use our god given voice — not in silence — to rally against the bully, the oppressor, those that simply want to put us down because we’re different than they are… in our bedrooms and who we choose to partner ourselves with in the long road through life.

Fast forward to almost 20 years since then and the PFLAG and Youth groups are organizing themselves into being silent as a protest to those that bully us to prove a point against those that bully and name-call them for being Gay, Lesbian, Queer, and on the road to being Transgendered.

This to me is the most passive-aggressive method of handling such bullying and name-calling, and in my not even remotely humble opinion the most wrong direction that could be done for the “community” on the whole. Silence is not an act of empowerment; in fact it’s quite the opposite. Silence is an act of non-activity. To allow the bullies to continue to oppress, and in silence give reason to continue their actions.. I would even be so bold to venture that silence placates those incapable of acting out and speaking out on their own into giving them a false sense of accomplishment that they were actually able to do something, which in actually they really aren’t doing anything at all. It’s a lazy response to an ever-present problem that has plagued the LGBT “community” for as long as I remember.

Sitting here and writing this entry, I’m reminded it wasn’t my silence that had caused a bully in my life to get shut down, it was the words of someone that spoke out that had instead. What had happened was, I was in my senior year in high school. A kid by the name of Allen B hated me and was the only one to verbally attack me every opportunity since he saw me in 8th grade all the way up to 12th. Quite literally — a verbal bully.

I routinely laid low and ignored him whenever he used to pick on me, which was practically every time he saw me for whatever classes we had been in — and in the last case Ancient History Class.

Little did I know that my History Teacher — Mr. Rogers had been watching Alan picking on me for quite some time and one day when Mr. Roger’s strolled into class he began saying, “You know, I have an incredible amount of respect for Mr. Newlander…” (yes that was me before my name change that happened several years later), “…For in spite of Mr. B’s (Allen B.’s) derogatory comments, Mr. Newlander remains true to himself in spite of what other people mock him for being different.”

And while my confidence had flown to a new high, it was some months after that that I had realized that Allen B. was no longer picking on me. In fact, he refused to say anything to me since that confrontation by my History Teacher. It taught me that my silence that hadn’t stopped Allen B. from picking on me, it was being verbally humiliated through Mr. Roger’s words that had caused him to stop.

Some years later, I recall another incident with someone on Yahoo Chat that used to raze the various Gay Men’s Lounges causing untold trolling of the locals and denizens there. From Voice Chat bombs, to various forms of typed abuse of people in there, whenever he showed up, everyone was off trying to berate him into a false sense of shame hoping that in doing so, he would eventually stop and move on.

He didn’t in fact. He thrived off the silence as much as he did the negative attention he got whenever he was in the chat rooms. If anything, deriding him only made him stay all the longer.

One day, I had my fill of his antics and confronted him in front of everyone else. Getting the majority to remain quiet, I worked the very magic I had learned in my years of reading people. I basically got him to acknowledge that regardless of silence or verbal abuse, he got his power off of both. The instant that he did admit this, I then told him he had no power over me, I would take back the power I had given him over me and when that happened he would be a nobody.

He left chat after that conversation and didn’t return for almost three weeks. The denizens and locals cheered me on for a job well done, and from that learned how to deal with the bully whenever he showed. Eventually he gave up moving onto other chats to harass and cause trouble in.

The point I’m trying to make here is that while silence does have its application on members of society that realize silence’s importance; bullies aren’t such a group. Bullies live and thrive off of silence, because to them silence means they are successfully oppressing someone into non-action and non-activity. Unless the silence has a point that can be readily seen and/or tangibly realized by all, these Day of Silences really don’t amount to anything outside of the 10% of the population that they’re trying to support (and perhaps even the 25%+ that are friendly to such causes) that participate. A wasted effort at best, given people the wrong sense of patting themselves on the back for a job not done.

In fact, I would like to say that the opposite is more important in the presence of bullies, name calling and even oppression.

Be vocal…

Be upfront…

Be confident…

But don’t be silent.

Silence is where this all started. The last thing one should be doing is making full circle back to it, even if it’s for a day of protest. One’s voice is the third most powerful tool one has. The first being one’s intelligence and the second being compassion. Using all three properly is what led to Women’s Suffrage, the March on Washington, and especially Stonewall. If one must be silent, be silent in contemplation to those that have suffered at the hands of bullies and oppression; but speak loudly after that moment of silence. For the dead cannot speak of the injustices against them and the silent won’t speak up for fear of continued oppression…

*takes a deep breath* I’ll get off my soap box now… And perhaps get a short (bike) ride in before the rains come again. I’ve said my peace… Yes, said… Something done to the opposite of silence.

Until the next time.

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