April 16, 2010

>Day of Silence Student Voices: Melissa (Southern California)

>As the Day of Silence continues, we've heard lots of stories and experiences from students all across the country, about why they chose to participate and how their vows of silence turned out. We hope your Day of Silence events were successful, and that after you break the silence you continue to speak out and take action against anti-LGBT bullying, harassment and violence.

This Student Voices piece comes from Melissa, who is a home-schooled student from Southern California. Nice job, Melissa!

Why am I participating in this year's Day of Silence? I'd like to say it’s simple, but it's really not. I heard of the Day of Silence last year, but I'm home schooled and had no idea how I could do anything that would make a difference. This year, however, I'm taking a class at the local community college, a Spanish course. I don't have class on the 16th, the day it's set to take place, so I chose the 15th because I'll have class. My teacher was very understanding and supportive when I discussed my participation about it with her.

Part of me was afraid to participate, mainly because of the possibility of it bringing unwanted attention to my own sexuality, which I'm not yet quite sure of myself. I made the decision that even if I have to come out as not being heterosexual, then that's what is meant to be. If I can make even one person more aware of what they say to people, then it's worth any tiny amount of interruption in my life.

I've never been one who's good at sports, or art, or music, and I was always bullied in school for being so academically driven, but not having talent in much of anything besides school made me realize what I want to do with my life. I want more than anything to make a difference.

When I first started coming to terms with my sexuality, I did a lot of online research and came upon The Trevor Project, which led me to GLSEN and the Day of Silence. I’m going to participate this year, and every coming year. Knowing that there is something I can do to make a difference and create change, even if only in the slightest, is something that keeps me grounded, even when everything else around me can feel like it’s crashing down.

I want to participate in the Day of Silence to help educate people to how much silence can be caused even by something as simple as a few words. To raise awareness for the people who have been pushed into silence and are unable to raise awareness themselves. To show the person who suffers in their silence that there are people out there who care and recognize their pain and that there is hope. To show the gay person who thinks transgender people are any different from the rest of us, are just as much a part of the community than the rest of us. To show my homophobic "friends" and any other homophobic people that you don’t have to necessarily be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex, asexual, or any other sexual identity to be part of the LGBTQIA(…) community and stand up and support them.

I want to make a difference. This is where it starts. It's only the beginning for me.


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