To protest harassment against the LGBTQ community, Roberto Murphy, a 22-year-old political science major, and Mariana Moreno, a 26-year-old Spanish major, wear bandanas as part of the day of silence and sit-in at the Business General Studies Building quad on April 17, 2014, at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo. Calif . (photo/Marivel Guzman)
Wearing colorful bandanas and sitting in stoic silence, around 30 students and faculty participants showed their support for gay rights in the BGS quad on Apr. 17 and honored the memories of those whose lives were taken by hate crimes.
Day of Silence, put on by the Queer Student Coalition, Associated Student Government and Cross Culture Studies Department, is a day of protest for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer community and to let their silence be heard.
“It’s raising awareness and giving visibility to people that normally [people] don’t think about,” Alisha Bisaillon, 19-year-old biology major and QSC council member, said. “It’s also a day of remembrance for those who suffered from bullying, hate crimes and suicide.”
According to one of the facts given by QSC members, nine out of 10 LGBTQ students experience bullying on campus.
“Day of Silence started as a national day of protest and presentation in high schools for individuals that were either silenced through hate crimes or silenced on the daily through bullying,” Ramiro Gonzalez, 21-year-old communication major and QSC council member, said.
Originally experiencing Day of Silence in high school with the Gay Straight Alliance club, Gonzalez, along with other QSC council members, decided to put on an event with the new QSC at Saddleback.
“We felt like it’s a really important national day of observing for LGBTQ rights,” Gonzalez said. “It’s really powerful and draws a lot of attention because it’s so visual.”
Its powerful imagery caught the attention of students passing by and enticed them to participate.
“As I was walking by, I heard about a lot of kids that were being killed because of their sexual preference and I have a brother who is gay and that could’ve been him,” Johnny Alvizo, 21-year-old media arts major, said.
In addition to passersby, students in Gonzalez’s gender and popular culture class went to support the cause.
“A couple weeks ago, a man came on campus and was protesting that ‘homosex is goddamned a sin.’ Ramiro is in my class… and prior to getting us to go down to protest, he called campus police. They didn’t do anything, but stand in the corner… He felt really threatened by it because he is a gay student, and someone is coming protesting against that, I would feel threatened too,” Spencer Savino, 22-year-old criminal justice major, said. “Ironically, Day of Silence was coming up in a couple weeks, so we all vowed as a class to come down here and get other students fired up about the cause.”
To break the silence, students celebrated by announcing the names of students silenced permanently through hate crimes and a descriptions of the attacks, then shouting, “Break the silence,” with a clap in unison. They also chanted protests like:
“What do we want?”
“When do we want them?”
Participants and advisers saw this year’s event as a success.
“It went very well because the students this year are very organized so I was just advising them. They are a very, very active club this year,” Carmenmara Hernandez-Bravo, Spanish instructor and QSC adviser, said. “Last week they had a get-together here on the quad to explain to people why they are meeting and gave out literature so that people understand the definition of gay, lesbian, transsexual, queer, everything.”
Participants also took pictures with signs of their names and reasons why they broke the silence. They can be viewed on the QSC’s Facebook page along with more information at www.facebook.com/SBQSC.