Day of Silence

May 13, 2008
By Danielle Hamilton, Bradenton, FL

If you could hear the tinkerings in the minds of those who have chosen to participate in the day of silence, you might wonder if this really is a day of silence at all. Many react with rage, placing red tape over their mouths in a bitter attempt of more symbolism, while their peers look on, confused and wondering what this is all about. All that stands between these people, all that explains it to them is a 4 x 6 half-translucent slip of paper announcing the intention not to talk because of the abuse given to “lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their allies”. While the distance seems so small, a mountain stands between them.

And while we, the silent, happy with our choice, are frustrated that one would have to pull off such a stunt, get even more frustrated with the inevitable question, “What’s a transgender?” They try the word out – as if it is in Russian, full of “cz’s” and guttural sounds, sticking their tongue between their teeth in gentle concentration. And, as we are silent, we can’t answer the burning question in both of our minds. How would one answer such a question, anyway, without implying one’s own bias upon another? This is exactly what a day like this is for – to get rid of biases – but aren’t those who believe enough in a cause to go completely silent, bias in their own right? How does one stop biases when it spreads like wildfire down to one’s toes and through one’s hearts?

Certainly not with silence.

But it’s almost a relief not talking, not communicating with those whose ideals at times make me aggravated and honestly, but not condescendingly, sick. I don’t understand how one can have a problem with one’s natural preference with as much bitter confusion – but perhaps with more educated annoyance – as those who believe it unnatural.

Others – those who do not react with rage- pursue the silence as a sense of pride, pride to be gay, to be bisexual, transgender, a lesbian, or just an ally of each. It is shone when they walk out, red tape on their mouths, bright red nametags, blaring to the crowds, “Hello, I am gay/transgender/bi/a lesbian/an ally”. It’s a testament, knowingly loud, although silent. The school reacts; its attention some of these people have never felt, that they are special, that they are worth it, in spite of what they are, because of what they are, without regards to what they are. Whatever “it” is.

It’s the pride that keeps those people silent, an almost egotistical nature brooding in their heads. That’s what the silence protects – if only for one day – the imaginary world where no one can not like then for being who they are. And I guess that why those people often band together, to recreate, to re-procreate this world, in mind, in soul, in heart, in life.

So maybe silence, in itself, is louder and stronger than words. Perhaps the silence is a testament to confidence. It has been said a whisper makes people pay attention more than a scream; maybe silence is still stronger. The strongest things are the ones that be, the things that are. They are not the ones that boast or crave attention, but remain in the minds of people – or just a single person – long after the day is done. They are the ones whose strength comes from subtlety and in that sense it becomes impossible to ignore. It is a sheet of paper with only one word written.

It is the vulnerability in the singularity of the word. When one cannot talk, they become more vulnerable. Communication becomes a security blanket, and by taking this form – talking – which is most often used, causes another to be used more prominently – not typically writing, since most consider it to be cheating – and hand motions and mouthing things tend to lean that way. Body language and intuition become stronger, much like if a man loses his eyesight, his sense of smell, taste, touch and hearing become increasingly stronger to make up for the loss.

Or maybe it’s the simplicity itself that makes it vulnerable and in return successful. Its been said that the most potent verse in the Bible is also the shortest. “Jesus wept”. By only giving up something, one thing, constant and clear, it is the simplest thing one could do.

I remember before school, walking out, red tape on my friend’s mouths, bright red nametags, blaring out to the crowds, “Hello, I am gay/transgender/bi/a lesbian/an ally”. It’s a testament, knowingly loud, although silent. It really only said one things “You know who I am. – Now look what I can do.”

So maybe silence speaks after all, loud and clear; you just must know enough to listen for it.

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This article has 1 comment.

on Apr. 16 2009 at 5:48 am
This is very moving. The last sentence is ver, very true:

"So maybe silence speaks after all, loud and clear; you just must know enough to listen for it."

Parkland Book