Thursday, April 23, 2009

Day of Silence

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What if it were SAFER to be SILENT?

Nearly 9 out of 10 LGBTQ students report verbal, sexual or physical harassment at school.

The Day of Silence is a national, student-led action to raise awareness of the discrimination, harassment, and abuse -- in effect, the SILENCING -- that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people and their allies face daily. Join students on your college campus in creating safer schools for all, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

TODAY, for part or whole of the day, take a VOW OF SILENCE

Think about the voices you are not hearing

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In Jamaica, innumerable young men are bullied by their peers, who constantly remind them of how "dem gwaan like gyal." These individuals have no one to turn to, for even their families are unsympathetic to their situations. Reform is but a necessary means to a heterosexual end. Because of this, Jamaican homosexual youth must learn to negate their identitties at a very young age, internalizing the homophobia that is a fixed part of their daily lives, and consequently hate themselves. I remember many effeminate boys while I was in high school, and I was empathetic towards their realities, for I knew they suffered as much as I did. Still, we never spoke of our mutual challenges. I now know one of those individuals to be gay, and he recently told me that he once thought of killing himself.

I though of suicide too- a permanent means to escape the hell into which I was born. Most disconcerting, was the fact that I never identified as a homosexual, I was just perceived to be one. I knew it wasn't an option in Jamaica, so I never thought of it... I was heterosexual, of course. Still, the taunts were worse than a plague of locusts, for they stung relentlessly, without seasonality. It was my life... I spent many lonely days by the beach, wishing I never had to retun home; wishing I never had to go back to school. Everyone knew me as the "girly boy", and no matter how hard I sought to shed that descriptor, it followed me always.

I look back on those times, and I remember the pain I felt everyday. Born with an affliction that I could never be rid of... that I could never seek counsel on. How many more Jamaican boys face such challenges? Surely, there is a boy out there like me, searching for answers as to why he was born into a world which does not respect him for who he is as an individual. The Jamaican Christian God has no answers.

For all you silenced Jamaican youth, today I commit to an hour of silence in your honour. You may not be able to speak out for yourself, but my heart screams out for you.


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