Why I Don’t Observe the Day of Silence

While there is still quite a ways to go, American society has taken steps towards becoming more progressive, especially when it comes to the issues of the tolerance and acceptance of those who differ from societal norms.

With this acceptance has come a wave of (mostly student led) movements to try to combat the hateful and harmful attitudes of those who haven’t quite hopped on the acceptance train yet. One of these movements set to take place today, April 27th: the National Day of Silence. This is a day to protest the daily harassment and discrimination that members of the LGBTQA+ community face, and also to commemorate those lost due to it. While I am a victim of bullying myself, as well as a member of the LGBTQA+ community, I do not personally observe the National Day of Silence or similar movements. This may raise a few eyebrows, as well as ruffle a few feathers; I’m fully aware of that. While I still strongly advocate against both bullying and discrimination, I still cannot bring myself to get behind this cause.

From what I’ve observed in the past, Day of Silence has morphed from a truly meaningful movement into a day of false allyship and solidarity. Day of Silence, Offline October, and many similar “anti-bullying” movements were very popular at my high school. Lots of students would participate, and masquerade for the day/week/month as an ally. But, at the end of the day, that’s exactly what it was: a masquerade. Bullying would still run rampant in the halls, and it seemed as though the biggest perpetrators were the ones who advocated the most for these movements. Once the alloted time for kindness was up, the switch would flip, and they would go back to treating others with hate. Nothing was ever accomplished. Kids were still casually throwing around anti-queer slurs and making fun of our community. I became jaded to the whole thing, and haven’t observed since.

Of course, not everyone who participated was like this. There are many true allies who approached this movement with the best intentions, and I appreciate their efforts to make the world a little brighter. There is a lot of pressure nowadays, especially with the influence of social media, to have a polished, perfect exterior, and to show others how good of a person you are. Participating in these types of movements give you a few “good Samaritan brownie points” (especially when you post about it online for all to see).

In my opinion, if you’re going to really participate in these movements, you should take a few mental steps before doing so. First, evaluate your intentions behind participating. Are you doing this because you actually care, or because you want to look good for others? If it’s the former rather than the latter, participate by all means. However, you need to continue to be a good ally, even after the demonstration ends, otherwise you’re a hypocrite. To me, fake allies are just as bad as those who actively seek to oppress others.

I have chosen not to partake in these kinds of movements, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. In the end, it is ultimately up to you to decide what kinds of causes you will fight for and what sorts of demonstrations you will participate in. As long as your intentions are good, and you go into it with a wary and critical mind, I say go for it. Just remember to be genuine as well as kind.