Members of Harvard’s queer community made a strong statement yesterday—by remaining silent.
Around 50 queer students and supporters maintained a vow of silence from 9 a.m to 5 p.m. as part of a National Day of Silence to draw attention to prejudice and harassment directed against the bisexual, gay, lesbian, and transgender community.
Vow-takers displayed cards explaining their silence: “Please understand my reasons for not speaking today...My deliberate silence echoes that silence, which is caused by harassment, prejudice, and discrimination. I believe that ending the silence is the first step toward fighting these injustices. Think about the voices you are not hearing today. What are you going to do to end the silence?”
The event kicked off celebrations for “Gaypril,” the month of pride for the Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, Transgender and Supporters Alliance (BGLTSA) featuring a dance, a pre-frosh weekend table and an Institute of Politics seminar, according to BGLTSA Political Chair Mathew C. Dewitz ’03.
Besides remaining silent for eight hours, some participants attracted attention outside the Science Center by taping their mouths and binding their hands—to depict how queer individuals are often forced to be silent.
Participants also ate lunch together at Lowell House, using paper and pencil to convey messages. Vow-takers broke their silence together at a rally in the Leverett JCR at 6 p.m.
Participants were allowed to speak if required during their classes.
Laure E. “Voop” de Vulpillieres ’02, founder of the New England Queer College Organization and secretary of Girlspot, a group for BGLT women, said she felt the “visual depiction” of queer issues was a success.
“It gave me an opportunity to show more of a queer presence on campus,” she said. “My silence was also a period of introspection for me, as I thought about what it meant to be queer.”
Yesterday was the second time Harvard students observed the National Day of Silence, which was created in 1996 by a student at the University of Virginia.
Members felt it compared favorably with last year’s event, but said they hoped for more participation in the future.
“It was a successful event, but I just wish more people actively participated,” said Fred Smith ’04, co-chair of the BGLTSA.
While most gay organizations celebrate their month of pride in June or July, BGLTSA members have said the group celebrates it in April to give it a catchy name and to hold the event during the academic year.
—Staff writer Ravi P. Agrawal can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.