This was the first year that I decided to participate in the Day of Silence. I had never gotten the chance to before.
Originally I had just planned on being quiet all day and perhaps showing anyone my little flyer if they asked what was going on. But I met Elisa outside holding a piece of posterboard and decided to join her. We shared Borchuck Plaza with a group of Jehovah's Witnesses and for a while, we were in an invisible contest with them over who could give out the most flyers. (It was not deliberate...on our part, at least).
Many people were content to take flyers, read them or throw them away, and just move on with their day, but there were a few who decided to take it upon themselves to clue us in on some information as though we had never heard it before.
Elisa had made two posters, and I made a sign in honor of Angie Zapata. We were asked to relocate later by someone who worked in the University Office, and paperwork/bureaucracy later, we moved from Borchuck to the space outside the Amphitheater.
During our time outside we had encounters of varying good and bad degrees. There was a man who gave us this note (and it is full of spelling errors):
"By Being a Christain I Love you Butn't The sin of Homosexuality It is my Hope's that you give yourself a Chance in this Life to accept the Truth of God and His Inttention For you."He included his email address, which I have withheld here for his own safety, as well as a footnote: "I'll Help you Any of You Any Way I can." He gave me a free Smart Water.
One man, after reading our flyer, blatantly shouted at us, "There's no bullying on this campus - I've been here for nineteen years and I've never seen it!" He was more than happy to discuss our "whiny, complaining asses" with the Jehovah's Witnesses that were no more than five feet from us.
Two individuals, one female and one male, challenged our DoS demonstration. The female said that she was definitely against homosexuality and the male asked what justification we had to tell people to "not hate." He said it was like him telling us to "not love."
Some other negative things were people trying to trick me into accidentally speaking, tearing up flyers in front of our faces, making sure we saw them crumpling up the print-outs we gave them, rolling their eyes at us, outright laughing, calling DoS a joke, and telling us that our demonstration is pointless.
There were notes showing positive support such as:
"I want to let you know that I'm gay and observing the Day of Silence. Thanks for the support!"One female was kind enough to give me a hug and thank me for being brave enough to stand up for myself and what I believe in.
"I support LGBT and the Day of Silence. ....So does my girlfriend."
One male stopped people in front of me and asked if they hated me. He wanted to know if I wanted people to agree with my sexuality and my beliefs (of course, I couldn't verbally answer, so I nodded). He said that he agreed with stopping the hate so long as I agreed it should extend to race, which I also nodded to.
Several people had forgotten that today was the Day of Silence and a few (rather ironically) cheered me on by yelling positive cheers at me and giving a thumbs up. Individuals not affiliated with our demonstration supported us with physical gestures letting us know they were celebrating too.
All in all I think it was a very good experience. I think we have a long way to go on this campus as far as fighting for LGBT representation and equality but today was very definitely a good start.
Thank you, Ethan and Elisa! You are changing hearts and minds!