Saturday, April 18, 2015

While I was silent

On Friday, April 17th, I participated in the Day of Silence. It is a youth movement meant to draw attention to those that feel they must remain silent about their sexuality, as well as their allies. I'm not considered "youth" any more but I thought I would partake in the day since I was unable to when I was in fact in high school. I was surprised to find that a number of things came to light for me.

1. The first thing I had to do was explain to my kids what I was doing and why, the night before. My 3 yr old had no clue what was going on, not fully, but she still told me she would help me be quiet (which has now been added to one of the cutest phrases I have heard from her lips). My 8 yr old was excited by the thought behind the day. Suddenly he wanted to participate because he felt that the way his classmates pick on him is bullying and feels the need to draw their attention to it. I talked him down, but on Monday we will be asking his teacher if she will be willing to allow him to have a DoS on Friday. We are asking because he is young, it will be difficult, we don't want to disrupt the class, and well, we want to give her a heads up. Of course if he does this it will be for bullying and harrassment in general, not simply the LGBTQA+ cause, although that is what caught his attention.

2. It's easy to ignore most people, to not respond, to get them to understand things with hand gestures and simply pointing. Not a 3 yr old, who surprisingly remembered what was going on and was soon ok with me not talking. But this meant me having to do a lot more for her since I couldn't simply tell her to do it herself or go get Daddy. I must also say, it was one day when I was extremely glad I took the time to teach my kids some sign language when they were little.
Anyway, it was very hard not to randomly blurt out how cute she was, how silly she was acting, how much I love her. While today was about bullying, I couldn't help but think about the number of voices permanently silenced due to suicide. How many mothers out there don't get to say these same things to their own children because they were taken from them when they could no longer bare the harrassment? I nearly cried a few times just staring at my daughter. I'm sure it is something that will stick with me for a while.

3. Which leads me to my own mother. Nearly every morning she sends me a sweet little text sayign "Good morning. How are you doing?" It is a bright spot in my day. Today the text read "I know you can't speak, but I wanted to say hi." It put a huge smile on my face. My mother is a Christian, a very sweet, loving, Christ-like Christian. Something I have found is rare. She has one daughter that is openly pagan and another that is openly gay. And she texts them every morning asking how they are, sending a little support my way when I choose to back a cause she may not feel fully comfortable with. Because she is amazing. I have found a small group of people who are the same and I have pulled them in close over the years, so happy to have found them after too many years of being tormented for my beliefs. Today reminded me that there are those out there willing to overlook the differences and offer kindness.

4. And thus that last little hit home for me. I was bullied for much of my life. Even back when I still practiced Christianity, I was in a bigger school system where I was in fact in the minority for my beliefs. I was looked down on and laughed at. When I found my way to Paganism we were in the process of moving to a small town that currently has 6 churches for the small population to choose from. Once more I was the minority, the outcast, the one on the recieving end of the notion that we should "just string 'em up and let them burn." I hate to admit but while dealing with the slurs and comments I didn't pay any attention as my sister came out gay. I can only hope her popularity saved her from the worst of it.
When Facebook first started, back when you actually needed and .edu email to log in, I was still trying to get to know my new college acquantances. I told my roommate I was pagan before moving day so she could leave if she wanted, she asked that I hide my books until after her parents left. I did. I told my Welcome group that it meant I was polythiestic and got all kinds of excited at the World Cultures reading list for it's diversity, but I rarely talked to all but one of the other members as soon as it stopped being mandatory. After a heated debate the second semester about boundries involved in religion, conversion, caring for others souls, some stopped talking to me completely. So I always watched my posts on FB. Years later I found that I hesitated before every repost, wondering if someone would be offended o disgusted. I reread every update for any signs of my beliefs, knowing I had friends and family that disagreed or even worse, didn't know. It wasn't until my stepmom informed me that her father, the preacher, already knew about my religion, after we had gotten back from staying with him on vacation where he never said a word and was so sweet to me. Holy crap, I could say what I wanted because those that mattered no longer cared!
I was silent for too many years, unable to voice my real opinions and beliefs! Suddenly I could say what I wanted. So I started doing that. I repost little link about Pagan Pride Day. I "like" that article about dealing with depression and mental health. I shared that video about the couples behind an X-Ray kissing. I am not in your face pagan and I don't have only gay friends. But I am me and I no longer hide that.
So today when I couldn't get on Facebook and point out how I am reminded of why I worship the Sun when I am lucky enough to catch a sunrise like this morning, I was very caught off gaurd and a little anxious. I simply couldn't imagine having to go back to being silent about who I am. So why must our youth feel they have to be silent?

Think about all the voices you don't hear.

Thank you to everyone that respected my decision to partake in this event. Thank you to everyone who has made sure that I do not have to be silent the other 364 days of the year. Thank you to everyone who has spoken out about bullying and harrassment for whatever cause. 

I hope you feel you can speak up. Remember, you can always talk to me.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

April 17th - A Day of Silence

So back in 2003 I heard about the Day of Silence. A Friday in April when students across the country remained silent to show their support for other students that had to keep quiet about their sexual orientation. A way to speak out against bullying without saying a word. I tried to join it, but being from such a small community that didn't understand it didn't turn out so well.

I decided this year to partake again.

Traditionally it is a thing only done by students, but I don't see why that has to be. There are plenty of adults out there that feel that they can't be who they want to be for fear of hatred. It is also a campaign for the LGBTQA+, but they are not the only ones bullied for who they are. People can be terribly unaccepting when they want to be.

So tomorrow I am going to take a vow of silence. That means complete silence. No talking with friends, family (yeah, even the kids), and not online. I have almost always felt safe in expressing my beliefs and preferences, but there are so many others that can't. Even if you are just a plain jane and have nothing to be silent about, maybe you should consider being silent for the day, it may give you a look into how others feel when they are unable to express themselves.

I am hoping that by doing this I can show my kids (mainly Jareth since he is older) how devastating bullying can be. I may fail, I may end up breaking down and talking with the kids, and I may give in to check a notice on Twitter. Or I may make it through the day, having to be quiet about my opinions and thoughts for the first time in my life, or since I came out of the broom closet back in 2001. Either way, I hope to raise some awareness for those out there that even as adults they don't feel free to be themselves. That alone could inspire something big.

For those that don't feel they have anybody to talk to, please feel free to message me. Reach out because I am here to listen to whatever you have to say about whatever subject. You don't have to be quiet!