Updated: Feb 1
During April, we, the LGBTQ+ community commemorate a Day of Silence. The day is used to illuminate what many LGBT youth experience daily. Many youth learned to silence their truth as their concerns and complaints to their parents, teachers, and administrators fell on deaf ears. If you had to guess insights on Americans who were LGBTQ+, would you have guessed 61% of LGBTQ+ Americans say they or someone they know has been bullied because of their sexual orientation? It’s true. National Today took a survey and as a result 61% said yes to the question, had they or someone they know ever been bullied because of sexual orientation? I don’t get it. What makes someone feel hatred and act on their hate towards another person when their identity and orientation doesn’t involve you? Do these people feel lonely and find it easier to hate on others because they don’t fit into the groups they so desperately want to be a part of? Is it internalized hatred because they don’t possess the courage to act outwardly on what they feel inside?
I am sure we’ve all heard as a young child that if someone was getting picked on continuously it’s because the bully liked the person they were picking on. For example, in one of my all-time favorite cartoons, “Hey Arnold,” Helga was often mean to other people but was exceptionally rude to Arnold whom she was madly in love with and infectiously called “football head.” Helga walked around as if she was the toughest kid on the block bullying others that were courageous to be exactly who they were. Helga had many internal struggles and it showed with every encounter.
I remember early in the season of the TV show “Hey Arnold,” Helga wasn’t invited to an all-girls makeover party. Helga pretended not to care when her best friend, Phoebe mentioned she’d been invited and planned on attending the event. Phoebe told Helga she hadn’t been invited because she isn’t into all that girly stuff and essentially already likes who she is. Helga was crushed, immediately leaving to purchase a magazine at her local corner store on how to make herself over because she did want to go to the party. Helga had a deep desire to belong to a group. Eventually, Helga made her way into the all-girls makeover party initially still lying to herself and others. She spent the entire time making others at the party feel bad about themselves when really, she was the most insecure person at the party. All the young ladies stood wearing avocado face masks when Rhonda, the host of the makeover party tells Helga she isn’t like the rest of them. Helga exclaimed, “You’re right, Rhonda. I’m not like the rest of you—I’m not wearing a mask!” She wasn’t wearing an avocado face mask but she was wearing tons of makeup masking who she is inside, a tom girl. As most shows geared towards children during those times, the episode ended on a positive note teaching the lesson of learning to accept yourself as you are and dare to act outwardly on who you are inwardly.
For those that bullied and currently still commit acts of hatred towards the LGBTQ+ community, how’d you miss these simple lessons?
The illustrious University of Houston (go coogs) participated in the traditions of a Day of Silence during my time in undergrad. Many people walked around campus with tape in the shape of an X on their mouths or they’d place the tape on the back of their hands and cover their mouth when someone attempted to speak to them. As National Today mentioned, silence is a powerful message. On campus at the end of the day the university broke its silence by holding a speaking rally to bring awareness to the daily struggles of LGBTQ+ folks who are continuously ignored by schools, their work place, neighborhoods, or institutions. Many straight allies acknowledged change needs to happen and lots were actively doing their part to make change.
Call out the Helga's in the wrong.
5 INSIGHTS BY AMERICANS WHO IDENTIFY AS LGTBQ*
(stats from National Today)
61% of LGBTQ* Americans say they or someone they know has been bullied or harassed for their sexual orientation.
10% of LGBTQ* Americans have felt silenced because of their sexual orientation.
5% of LGTBQ* Americans have not yet come out because they are afraid of the consequences.
5% of LGBTQ* Americans have trouble connecting with others because of their sexual orientation.
20% of LGBTQ* Americans think it's important to teach youth tolerance.
Can we count on you to acknowledge the struggles of the LGBTQ+ community and choose to say something when you see someone being met with injustice?