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LGBTQ supporters to end Day of Silence with flash mob

Will+Ferguson%2F+Arizona+Daily+Wildcat%0A%0ACynthia+Lee%2C+a+public+health+and+business+economics+senior%2C+observes+a+day+of+silence+in+honor+of+persecuted+members+of+the+LGBTQ+community.+The+event+was+hosted+by+the+Pride+Alliance+on+the+UA+mall+on+Wed.+April+18%2C+2012.
Will Ferguson
Will Ferguson/ Arizona Daily Wildcat Cynthia Lee, a public health and business economics senior, observes a day of silence in honor of persecuted members of the LGBTQ community. The event was hosted by the Pride Alliance on the UA mall on Wed. April 18, 2012.

An annual LGBT event will end a little more loudly this year, as students plan to break their Day of Silence with a flash mob.

The Day of Silence is a national awareness campaign aimed at highlighting the discrimination, bullying and harassment that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning students face, according to Katie Kilby, a public health junior and intern for the Associated Students of the University of Arizona Pride Alliance. Students will take a vow of silence today as a testament to the issues that affect the LGBTQ community.

“I think that silence and discrimination, it hurts all of us, but I don’t think we always connect with how it hurts us,” said Jennifer Hoefle-Olson, program director for LGBTQ Affairs through the Dean of Students Office. “The Day of Silence campaign is an opportunity to really help all of us reflect on the voices we’re not hearing.”

Though the Day of Silence will not be nationally recognized until Friday, Hoefle-Olson said, they decided to host the event today, as there will be more students on campus. The event, a collaboration between Pride Alliance, LGBTQ Affairs, ASUA and the UA, is also meant to increase student involvement.

In the past two weeks, Pride Alliance has hosted a booth on the UA Mall to provide students with a free T-shirt to tie-dye in preparation for the event. The idea is to create visibility and make the event more interactive, according to Christina Bischoff, an ecology and evolutionary biology senior and co-director of Pride Alliance.

Having so many people involved is a positive sign, Hoefle-Olson said.

“I’m excited to see that many people care about the discrimination impacting a community that I’m a part of and that I love deeply,” Hoefle-Olson said.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today, representatives from Advocates Coming Together, a group of students who live in UA residence halls and work for social justice and change, will host a photo shoot called “Raise Your Voice.” Students can visit the shoot to take a photo with a board that says,
“I raise my voice because…” after writing in their own reason, or use a board with a pre-written reason, according to Kilby.

At 5 p.m., participants will break the silence with a flash mob on the UA Mall.

“I feel like the Breaking of the Silence is the most important part of the day,” Bischoff said, “just because it is the best part to get to reflect on everything, like to finally get to communicate with these people you’ve shared the experience with.”

The Breaking of the Silence is a way to celebrate after a day that can be quite somber, and to demonstrate that although the LGBT community may be silent, it is also resilient, Kilby added.

Throughout the day, members of Pride Alliance will be displaying posters and signs with facts such as how many people hear discriminatory slurs every day, how many people are victims of hate crimes every year and other information and resources, according to Bischoff.

The event is important for ally-building and raising awareness on how many LGBT people and allies there are in our community, Bischoff added.

“Just keeping that vow of silence and remembering, like, this is the same sort of silence that my friends have faced, or my family members have faced, is just a really … odd experience,” Bischoff said. “It’s something that you don’t think about until you’ve tried remaining silent for that long.”

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