Friday, April 23 is the annual Day of Silence for LGBTQ+ community and allies around the world to spread awareness about the effects of bullying and harassment on LGBTQ+ individuals. 61% of LGBTQ Americans say they or someone they know were bullied or harassed for their sexual orientation. Youth first led this movement in 1996, and members of the Multnomah Youth Commission (MYC) invite you to participate on April 23 by wearing tape over your mouths or drawing an “X" on each of your hands to further call attention to the movement.
“Harassment is unfortunately a reality for most queer people and those who don't identify within the gender binary.” said MYC member Alana Nayak. “I can say that as a multiracial queer woman, I have been called racial slurs, fetishized, and told that there is something wrong with me. It is hard to be out with my girlfriend without receiving looks or a man fetishizing our love.”
Nayak participated in the Day of Silence at school most years by carrying around a whiteboard or her phone to communicate with teachers and other students.
“For allies, it can be a day to reflect upon the experience of LGBTQ+ people and the silence or erasure they feel when spoken over (often by allies),” said MYC member Lane Shaffer. “It's important for allies to understand that 99% of the time, the best way to support their queer friends is by uplifting their voices rather than speaking over them.”
MYC members believe bullying, harassment, and fetishization of LGBTQ+ identifying people is a massive issue and it is often overlooked by adults.
“MYC is committed to advocating for LGBTQ+ youth and we uplift our voices through experiences like this,” said Nayak. “Especially during BLM, Portlanders must understand that the experiences of brown and Black queer people are very different than the experience of white queer folks.” Basic Rights Oregon’s Executive Director Nancy Haque and others explain more in a recent NPR interview: For LGBTQ People Of Color, Discrimination Compounds: NPR.
Last year, the MYC creatively (and virtually) hosted programming around voter education, transit equity, and anti-violence. Later this spring, the MYC will be announcing anti-violence grant recipients. Last week, they closed recruitment and received 44 applications for the 2021-22. Stay tuned for more exciting MYC announcements.