How much does fear and sadness motivate? Does it motivate at all?
I mentor my old high-school’s Gay-Straight Alliance, and the last big project was Day of Silence. I listened as the students listed the hardships of being queer, what we aren’t allowed to do, how many of us have died… I didn’t feel inspired, I felt depressed. Is this what our youth have to look forward to?
“It’s good to educate about oppression.” I said to the students, “Maybe we can take it a step further and not only promote the voices of those who have been oppressed, but also the voices of those who have overcome. Show people what they are missing by not hearing us.”
The idea seemed to pump them up, but in the end it didn’t sell. I guess it’s more dramatic and “moving” to talk about dead people. And that is a big face of queer activism: death. Transgender Day of Remembrance (the only “trans day” there is) is about remembering dead people. Day of Silence is about loss of power and lack of recognition. Every queer storyline in mainstream media ends with us losing our loved ones or being raped and murdered. Organizations fund vigils and memorials but not drag shows and parties. There is no showing the joy of queer life, or offering information and knowledge, only the sadness and penalty is given.
The message being sent is: “Come out and join the movement! Your life is going to suck and then someone’s going to kill you.” Sounds like a great plan, and look how well its worked so far.
cross-posted on AmplifyYourVoice.org