National Day of Silence

Today is the National Day of Silence, which is about making sure LGBT kids are not bullied in school, and this year it will be dedicated to the memory of Lawrence King, a California pre-teen who was shot and killed by another classmate out of homophobic hate. It is an important day, because we need to protect our children. Kids aren’t always aware of what their hatred can do. It is just as deadly as grown up hate. Hate kills. And it hurts everyone.

I remember when I was in high school, and someone had written all this homophobic graffiti, identifying all these ‘lesbians’ in school, writing all the girl’s names in big letters all over the walls. It was really scary, like a witch hunt. Rumors started swirling about who else was a lesbian, and then my day came. One horrible girl named Kathi said that I had tried to kiss her on the lips, and I was really offended – because yes, I wanted to kiss girls on the lips, but not her! Eew! Kathi was gross! Of course she was not ugly, she was a beautiful girl who later became a real live anorexic model, but she was mean, with a long black dark streaky sandy gritty vein of meanness that ran through her like a shrimp, and that made her unbearably ugly to me. I was really mad about it and I was scared anyway because I knew inside that I was different, and that people were picking up on it was really frightening. This was in the 80’s, so we had no real understanding of gay pride. It only existed for adults then, not for kids. When I tried to defend myself against the rumors, people would say, “Why are you getting mad? If you are mad about it that totally means you are a lesbian and you love Kathi!” I don’t know if I cared about being called gay as much as I cared about people thinking I had bad taste.

In retrospect, I had it really easy. Kids didn’t have guns then, at least not in my school. Bullying and name calling was hurtful, but it didn’t kill you, it just made you want to die, which was bad too. When you are a kid, being thought of as different is so scary, and we just want to blend in, but if you are gay, you can’t always hide it. People pick up on it, and if they want, they can turn it against you. And the consequences can be deadly. I don’t want any more children to suffer because of this kind of ignorance and stupidity. Growing up is hard enough without having to fear being killed because of who you are.

19 thoughts on “National Day of Silence

  1. Bullying is a huge deal. Emotional scars are hard core, though I agree, guns and knives are probably more dangerous. NO one should have to grow up feeling that afraid just based on who they really are.

    Thanks for the good work. Also? This line? “but she was mean, with a long black dark streaky sandy gritty vein of meanness that ran through her like a shrimp”

    That’s genius, lady.

  2. I participated in the day of silence today, and we had a picture and description of Lawrence King on the sheet. Most people who read it either didn’t see what was wrong or didn’t care, but I thought I was going to have to bitch out this one kid who actually said he “deserved to be shot.” His reasoning was that “nobody is killed just because they are gay, and the media is lying.” He also threw in something about dressing like a chick or something, as if that justifies it. For a second I wondered if there was no racism in his magical world, either. But yeah, that little comment kinda ticked me off.

    At least we have this day now, I guess. Not too sure what good it does though. :/

  3. Thank you for this post, Margaret. I was one of those bullied school kids, and the healing is a long process. Multiple decades long. Ridiculous. When the wacko “pro-family” groups started suggesting that Larry King somehow deserved what happened to him, that he brought it upon himself, I felt the wounds opening up again. The day of silence is a terrific thing, even though the mass media (CNN, etc) seemed to ignore it yesterday. Cest la vie.

    You are my hero. The wind beneath my wings, if you will.



  4. LK wasn’t a pre-teen, he was 15. The killer was 14. I felt very sad hearing about his death. I am sick of this ‘pro-family’ garbage, I always know not to vote for anyone who uses that as a tagline!

  5. My heart breaks for this brave boy and his family.
    Again we have young kids getting their hands on guns and bringing them into school.

  6. Should always pause and remember those victims of homophobia. It would be nice that schools adopt a policy like that in work places where this type of harassment is banned for good.

  7. Hey Margaret! What is up with LoveisLoveisLove?

    Pennsylvania, Florida and a few other states are under continued assault from proposed marriage protection amendments. I would love to get back to banging the drums to prevent, and organize against these actions. I have my own page as before, but found our forum under your guiding to be more visible.

    Glad to see all is well in Cho-Land! If you ever swing by State College in the future, let us know! Hope to talk to ya soon. g

  8. Thanks Margaret for spreading the word about the importance of the National Day of Silence–on behalf of all queer youth and those of us who advocate for queer youth in the public schools. Things are changing though it’s not nearly enough. Though I certainly hate their message (and the firestorm of phone calls and emails to my school inspired by their “ALERT” about the “homosexual day of silence”)I took it as a powerful sign that the pro-family organizations were threatened enough by the power of the DOS to protest it.

    Miss Lady

  9. thanks for this margaret! i did spend a decent portion of the day in silence.

    wish we could have this kind of action and consciousness in Jamaica tho…! whew.

    thank you for you, will see your beautiful self at the Beautiful tour in Santa Rosa. bless up.

  10. Great post. I participated in Day of Silence, it was a great expirience. I didnt get any negative feedback from my classmates cause day of silence is big at my school, but recognize what others go though.

  11. Hi, i grew up and live in a society where gay people are either ignored or thought to be “mentally-ill” (yes such societies are still out there). Oh. And living in a society where being gay is ILLEGAL, doesnt help the issue either. But that’s not why I’m leaving a comment.

    Why i’m leaving a comment, is coz i had the exact same experience as Margaret, back in high school. Ppl pickin up on my “gay vibes” and being framed for being in love with someone I didnt even like. Except, this girl told everyone there was an official love confession. And I swear she and Kathi are the same kinda person. Easily anyone’s nightmare. For me, she was my worst nightmare. Oh the injustice!! Esp when i was actually in love with another girl (who, btw, was from another school)!! >.<

  12. I remember when I was in high school, we had day of silence but this super crazy nutjob Pat Robertson Christian (the type who couldn’t accept that sometimes, a handholding sponge was just a sponge) kid decided that that would be the appropriate day to distribute anti-gay literature, because, you know, we couldn’t do anything about it.

    I didn’t witness this, but I’m told he learned quickly that “silence” doesn’t mean “helpless.” Also, he was really one of the only anti-gay people at my high school, so some who weren’t doing the whole day of silence started haranguing him and, um, again, I didn’t witness this, but he came to school the next day sporting a lovely black eye. It turned all colors of the rainbow during the week…the only sad thing was, when he was reported to the school’s admin, the principal was all, “I sympathize, but free speech, so too bad.” Free speech is free speech, but passing out literature about how all the gays are going to hell for loving sodomy on the day of silence really is quite possibly one of the jerkiest things to do ever.

  13. Actually, the movie, ’21’, is based on the MIT Blackjack Team, which was founded by white dudes. Yeah some of the players were Asian but you make it seem like we were cheated of recognition.

  14. You know I still don’t completely understand the meaning of National Day of Silence. Isn’t it defeating the purpose of speaking out for those who are harassed and attacked for being homosexual? Instead of doing what they want and shutting up, we should get louder. However, if I’m missing something, please let me know because I don’t get it.

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