Remembering the Closet – Day of Silence Reflection

April 17, 2011 § 9 Comments

Rolling down my arm, anxious sweat stumbled from body to shirt as I sat, hands folded politely on my desk, feet slightly shaking in the air. The Day of Silence had begun again and for the 4th time I was participating by choice. Surprisingly, my Day of Silence experiences have never mirrored a previous year’s. As a freshman my silence evoked a pride from me which went unmatched for many weeks. Sophomore year my silence felt defiant and strengthening, while relaxed and casual was my Junior year’s Day of Silence, feeling almost too easy – perhaps because my gradual coming out process was nearing a close. This year I sat awkwardly in silence though I am more out than ever before, leaving me wondering: have I gone backwards?

After years of coming out and normalizing my actions, I became disconnected with the 7th grade Craig. The Craig who sat there, hands folded politely, anxiously sweating whenever the word gay was mentioned. Be it in poetry or old novels, back when gay meant happy, the mere mention of it would make my pulse quicken not out of excitement but out of anxiety. Anxiety spawned by fear of what I didn’t know then, but I assume the unknown. The mystery that would be my life after I one day came out. Would I be loved, hated, or forgotten? I loved myself, I accepted myself, yet these subconscious questions still plagued my mind.

These same questions I was reminded of this past Friday though it was the best Day of Silence our school experienced thus far – thanks to our amazingly supportive faculty, staff, and the many supporters who came out for the cause. Yet even with so much support, Friday was the least enjoyable Day of Silence for me. And I am beyond grateful for it.

With recent successes spanning from my parents accepting my boyfriend to my track coach’s verbalized support for me, I have felt more at home then ever. At the same time, I have lost sight of how I used to feel and how many people still do feel. It’s those feelings which led me to counsel my peers, those same feelings led me to blogging, and those feelings are the inspiration behind Day of Silence. Without recognizing those feelings, how am I supposed to help anyone who may still be closeted? How are we as an “out” community supposed to connect with those buried deep in the closet?

Yes, the world continues to get better as an out student athlete and I, aside from the Day of Silence, rarely feel like I did back in 7th grade. But we must remember those who still tense up at the mention of gay and remember how it feels to renew our motivation to continue helping. This past Day of Silence was the least enjoyable for me yet was the most rewarding to date and I can say with confidence that no, I have not move backwards. Instead I have been moving forwards with increased speed and I needed a reminder to look back. Thank you Day of Silence for giving me that.

To you – the more than awesome reader: What was your Day of Silence like? Tell us in the comment section below!


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§ 9 Responses to Remembering the Closet – Day of Silence Reflection

  • Mike Sarzo says:

    Unfortunately, I was not able to wear red or stay silent, but I did use the opportunity had by a co-worker who was wearing red but who was not aware of the Day of Silence to educate him on the meaning behind the Day of Silence.

    The only year I remember participating in the Day of Silence to any extent was the year when I wrote the column for my college newspaper. I was nervous about having it published and seeing it in print, but a few weeks later, one of my friends cited that particular column as an example of one of my best since I was a bi-weekly columnist for the newspaper at that time.

    I’m glad the day gave you a reminder of how nervous you were in seventh grade. We all have different journeys on the road of life, and in our journey toward self-acceptance. It’s good sometimes to look back and take stock of how we arrived where we have.

    • Craig says:

      How interesting that you ran into someone wearing a red shirt like that – I think it’s awesome that you filled him in on the Day of Silence! What was his reaction like?!

  • JC says:

    Glad your day went well! I wasn’t able to stay silent – neither my full time job or my coaching allow for that – though I showed my support by wearing red.

    I think what you’re going through is what all of us go through. I’m certainly not out to everybody, but have noticed the stages I have gone through, and they’re similar to yours. Your thought processes have changed as you’ve gotten older and presumably become wiser and more knowledgable. And that’s a good thing, because without it, you won’t be able to help those coming out behind you. You may never know who, but somebody you know is very aware of who and what you are, admiring what you’ve done, and using you as a role model. You’ve certainly influenced my awareness about certain issues.

    To paraphrase a famous quote, if we forget our own history of when or how we came out, we’re doomed to let somebody else repeat our mistakes.

    • Craig says:

      Thank you JC, and what you said: “You may never know who, but somebody you know is very aware of who and what you are, admiring what you’ve done, and using you as a role model” is so true! That message is one I hope to leave the underclassmen who will take over a GSA after I leave as owning the impact you can have on others really changes your mindset when it comes to actions. Everything from the way you carry yourself to your word choice, or even your aspirations are altered once you realize and own that fact.

      Thanks for the great comment JC!

  • I realize this is a ridiculously small contribution, but I’m usually very gabby over social media all day, particularly during the day. Instead I just posted a message in brackets that said: [Honoring GLSEN Day of Silence]

    Then I stayed off social media for the day.

    Just a reminder for some of my friends and followers. Like I say, small. But something.

    • Craig says:

      That sounds like a good contribution to me Catherine! Especially as I know a lot of your followers missed your tweets – I hadn’t realized you had stopped tweeting as I was off of twitter till the night time but for a few night owls who stopped tweeting, I noticed the same phrase posted on their twitter and that made my night all the better!

  • JC says:

    If we could only get Kobe Bryant to understand what you said:

    “owning the impact you can have on others really changes your mindset when it comes to actions. Everything from the way you carry yourself to your word choice, or even your aspirations are altered once you realize and own that fact.”

    He’s a great athlete, but not a great person. I’d rather be the latter. I’m 100% you would also and I believe that you’re already there. Keep up the good work.

  • Sarah says:

    This year is the first year that I was completely and totally out when I did the Day Of Silence. About 20 kids in our high school participated – a good number, but not as many as I had hoped. We wore all black and a gay pride pin on our chests – a symbol of the light at the end of the tunnel. Lunch was the hardest part for me because as I was sitting in silence with other participants, the kid at the table next to us said that ‘JV baseball is so fucking gay’. Luckily, I was sitting with a good friend who kindly hit him across the back. He reluctantly said sorry, but we all knew he was just sorry he had said it in front of us.

    While no one has given me trouble at my high school – I rarely ever hear anybody call people fags – I still feel different. There are still moments when I walk up to a lunch table and hear people shushing the one talking because the gay girl is coming over.

    But I have faith that one day this will all be irrelevant, and altogether, my Day of Silence experience is a testament to that.

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