Monday, May 5, 2008

Repost/Revision: Meditations on Silence

*This is a repost/revision of a blog entry I did for my blog on MySpace and Facebook - April 25 2005*

As some of you may or may not know, today is the "National Day of Silence," which is where you are not supposed to talk to show solidarity to those who have been the victims of hate crimes against gay people. It is a big deal across the nation for many people. I, for one, can't stand it.

I hardly think that refusing to talk shows any sort of support for the queer rights movement, rather I think it is a counterproductive event. This is mostly because those who oppress queer people would like nothing more than for queers to be silent. From a Foucauldian perspective, not talking about something is what takes power away from it. People like Jesse Helms actually do more for the queer rights movement by talking about it, because talking about it gives it power.

Last week's issue of Truman's paper, The Index, had an issue about our drag show and coming out in general (I was one of the interviewees - Story Here). This week's issue had a letter to the editor by someone who did not care for the article:

TruLife photos of drag show were printed in poor taste

In regards to the front cover of your TruLife section on April 17, what were you thinking? Who did you have in mind when you were printing that page? Definitely not the majority of this campus! I know the Index probably is one of the most liberal papers on a college campus but let's get serious. I don't care how liberal you people are, I don't want to see that crap shoved in my face every single time you print a freakin' paper! GET A CLUE, and realize most people in this world can't stand crap!

Reading things like this make me laugh, honestly it's so hard to believe people like this still exist, especially people who attend college. So why the anger? As my father always says, "Anger is a secondary emotion," and I think it's pretty safe to say that this guy's anger stems from fear. This guy obviously is scared, scared of what I don't know. I haven't been able to understand the homophobe mentality, my general view is: if it doesn't hurt me I'm not scared of it. I don't go around beating up straight people, nor do any of my gay friends, so I don't quite understand what they are afraid of.

I guess it's because by talking about other sexualities, it calls into question the "fixedness" of heterosexuality. If, as Judith Butler posits, heterosexuality (and I paraphrase here) continously tries to reproduce itself and fails, this is most brought out when other sexualities are brought out. Queerness is the failure of straightness to be the only sexuality. I, and I hope at least most other queer people, don't view myself as agonistic towards heterosexuality; it's just another point on the contiuum of sexuality.

Thus comes the practical part of this blog, I think that it is important to talk, not be silent. This guy is scared, and thus angry, because he doesn't understand that gender bending and same-sex desire does not exist to threaten his opposite-sex desire. The only way to fix this is to open up a dialogue; now, he probably wouldn't want someone like me to start talking to him, but this is what our straight allies are for! This is a movement that must be done by queers of all sexualities (and yes, I include heterosexuals in that), and it must be done with love, not anger. Anger does not win minds and hearts, it only strengthens negative resolves.

I also take issue with things that revolve around one day, because they present the false illusion that if you do something for that you can do something for one day and that "takes care of it." I know that the people who created these days probably don't view it that way, but that is the way that many people feel. They get rallied up for one day of "doing something" but then fail to the other 364 days of the year.

So rather than be silent today, why don't you change someone's mind? Start a conversation that will go on for more than just one day.

1 comment:

Kade and Caitlin said...

Do you think that the day of silence can simply be an annual awareness raising exercise? For the most part, I agree with the theory that "bad press is still press" and that even negative comments keep the dialogue open. But I also believe that there are simply too many people in the world, each with varying worldviews, making it necessary to take advantage of multiplicity in our political strategy. Especially since there is no one goal for the queer community (it's difficult to even use the term "queer community" and know what one means exactly). Multiple approaches may be the best way to reach the most people...

Then again, perhaps it just muddies the water.