Today is the Day of Silence, a national "movement bringing attention to the silence faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their allies."
For me it's been a long process "coming out" as a straight ally. Being that more than half of my closest friends are GLBT, though, I can think of no other way to live my life consistent with my experiences, relationships, and faith.
Many practicalities prevented me from being truly silent today: I still have to work, I still have to get my job done and interact with people. As much as possible I limited myself to digital communication only: emails, text messages, and typing notes on my computer when there were people in the office. Even this felt like cheating, but I accept the compromise. A couple times a student would come in and ask for help - when my coworker was in the office with me I could get away with gesturing (he understood me), but once he left I did have to break silence. I minimized my talking. The entire day, I've tried to listen more.
This morning I asked God to help me learn some lessons today. I was perhaps inspired by a TED talk I've seen of a man who stayed silent for 18 years, not in protest of anything, rather to learn without hindrance. I hoped to learn something.
I learned I was afraid. I feared being discovered, as it were. Yet why else would I have chosen to be silent today if not to make a social point? Perhaps I only wanted to prove something to the administration. Yet sitting in my office, I feared interactions, because... I feared judgement? I feared having to speak? I don't know.
Originally we were to meet with the principals this morning about technology decisions, but the meeting was postponed. I lament that, I wonder if I thought that was my one chance to "stick it to the man". That sounds harsher than I mean it. What I mean it, my school is not a safe space for GLBTQ youth. It's not. I myself contributed to that oppression when I was a student. It saddens me. Last year my friend was not hired for the sole reason that he's gay. I was forced to remove a "Safe Space" sticker from my office door because "it might send the wrong impression [that other parts of the school aren't safe".
So today if I felt unsafe as an "out" ally, I can't imagine the real deal. What if I was gay? What if I were still a student? Yes, there are many teachers here who share my beliefs. But institutionally, the school does not.
What else did I learn today?
I learned how to type quickly. And to mime computer stuff. Click here, type your password, don't do that, do this instead.
I realized just how much I normally talk to myself during the day. My head was strangely quiet today.
I realized how much I love singing with the radio in my car. Or humming along with my music at work when no one else is in my office.
I felt support from friends on Facebook who commented or liked my status. I appreciated my coworker who wrote "Okay. I will simply wave at you today. No 'Hello, JG!'" We smiled when we bumped into each other, waved knowingly, and carried on.
Someone else wrote
Thank you for posting this Jeremy! I often tell my friends of faith that they really aught to show love to folks who are LGBT, because as far as I am concerned, God doesn't make mistakes... who are we to judge the way his children find love?
As someone who aspires to follow Christ, today I feel I was called to nothing less than silence.
I miss my voice.