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Silence for breakfast, shouting for dinner


Photo
JACOB KONST/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Microbiology freshman Brandon Toussaint works a table on the Mall yesterday, handing out fliers, T-shirts and condoms encouraging passers-by to respect gay rights. Students participated in a nine-hour vow of silence in protest of oppression expressed toward gay, bisexual and transgender people.
By Aubrey McDonnell
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, April 14, 2005
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A group of UA lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students and their allies took a nine-hour vow of silence yesterday in quiet protest for the oppression they have suffered throughout their lives.

Students gathered on the grassy area in front of the fountain near Old Main in preparation to break their silence yesterday afternoon, and as the clock struck 5, screams erupted from the crowd.

The intensity drew applause then laughter from the crowd as the students spoke their first words of the day.

"Today our silence is very loud," said Alex Grubb, president of Students Promoting Respect and Individuality Through Education. "Every day gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered students, and even our straight allies face harassment and prejudice. Today we took a stand and said ,'No, I will not tolerate this.'"

This is the first year the UA has held events on campus for the National Day of Silence, and more than 50 students participated in the event. Many of them gathered on the UA mall to share a silent lunch together.

"It really grounds you and makes you look at things differently when you can't speak," said Edmon Yohannes, a political science sophomore. "It's very eye opening."

Participants carried around explanation cards that were used to easily describe their refusal to speak.

"It was hard not to speak during English class, but the other students respected me even after I declined to speak to them a few times," said Andy Goolsby, a molecular and cellular biology freshman. "I felt this was a way to express my own feelings toward the discrimination I have felt with other people."

The challenge to stay silent was difficult for many participants; even one of the main planners of the event, Grubb, found it hard to keep his vow of silence.

"I have a radio show and you're usually supposed to talk," said Grubb, a journalism junior. "But today I just played music the whole time so I didn't have to."

Sabre Sarnataro, a member of SPRITE, said the day was great and the participant turnout exceeded her expectations.

"I enjoyed the day because after all the planning, the day turned out to be very representative of what I had envisioned for the day," said Sarnataro, a media arts senior.

After breaking the silence, participants were invited to make speeches, read poetry, or just say what they feel to the audience. The message of being loud and proud about their sexuality was particularly stressed to listeners.

"Now that we've broken the silence, we need to keep being loud," Grubb said.

Grubb said he feels optimistic about future Day of Silence events and he hopes the silence of the participants was heard by the rest of the UA community.

"I hope that we had some sort of impact on people," Grubb said. "And I hope next year is even bigger than this year."



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