If you ask people who know me about my life growing up, they'll certainly tell you that I'm one extraordinarily fortunate girl. I'm a nearly 18-year-old queer girl from a tiny town in southern Virginia, but that hasn't stopped me from having an incredible coming out experience. I've heard quite a few "coming out" stories and I'm convinced that mine is one of the most fortunate.
Most small towns are perceived to be ignorant about LGBT issues, and there are some people who do not approve of my sexual orientation. After my appearance in the local newspaper for attempting to start a GSA at my school, there were even more people who would like me to just shut up about it. However, in the four years or so since I came out to my family, friends, and peers at school, I have never once felt alone. With family, friends, open-minded community members who yearn to understand, and, most importantly, God behind me, I've managed to become a well-known and well-respected member of my community.
Throughout my experiences growing up, coming out, and cultivating a caring community around me, God has always been there to comfort and guide me. Many people may find this bizarre, or even impossible to understand, but a very simple reality has always stuck with me: God loves me very much, no matter how I identify. Too often, the message of intolerance and fear is sent to LGBT youth from our churches. I've been fortunate enough to experience the LGBT-friendly side of Christianity, which has truly helped me maintain my relationship with God. When it comes to participation in events like Day of Silence, I think to myself, "What would Jesus do?"
While I have been extremely fortunate in my coming out experience, both with God and with other people, I'm aware that my experience does not mirror those of many other LGBT youth. Although minds are changing, antagonism is still a prevalent response to those who simply stand up and be who they are. It is for this reason I observe Day of Silence. It would be easy for me to sit back and enjoy the luxury of my own accepting community without feeling the need to lift a finger for others, but for every person with the luxury of being out and proud, there are countless others who continue to be silenced by peers, teachers, family, and even religious leaders. This injustice is the reason I choose to visibly give up my privilege to speak as loud as I can in honor of those who are silenced to below a whisper.
I see my participation in the Day of Silence as an act of my Christian faith. My participation is guided by my favorite verse, Colossians 3:14, which reads, "But most of all, let love guide your life." Until stories like mine are no longer the minority, I encourage anyone and everyone to take the vow of silence with me.