A small, united group of Queens College students occupied Klapper Circle on a beautiful spring day.
Mouths sealed with rainbow duct tape and clothed in purple, they sat in silence in the middle of the bustling excitement of Free Hour surrounding them. However, they were silent for a purpose.
The QC Prism club observed A Day of Broken Silence on April 9 in correlation with The Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network’s National Day of Silence.
The pact of silence aimed to spread awareness of suicides committed by those bullied or harassed for their sexual orientation or gender identity
“The event is meant to bring awareness to the impact of anti-LGBT bullying and I think it does just that,” said junior Summer Medina, secretary of Prism. “Students and faculty may be confused why we have duct tape on our mouths, but that’s what we want: for people to ask questions.”
The students sat in intervals of silence while peers periodically removed their duct tape and stepped up to share speeches, poems or music. This emulated the idea of broken silence.
“I best express through music,” student Mahtab Bin Tahir said.
Tahir sang a rendition of Jack’s Mannequin’s “I Swim,” accompanying himself on acoustic guitar.
Catherine Thomas, senior, shared her firsthand experience with harassment and violence. Walking to the grocery store last February, Thomas witnessed a group of men beating up a boy no older than 15 with a baseball bat while spewing hateful slurs.
“I had that moment where I could walk away and whatever happens, happens,” Thomas said. “But I felt something needed to be done.”
Thomas stood up to the men, as their victim lay unconscious on the ground. She then became a victim herself as they proceeded to beat her.
“It shouldn’t have happened,” Thomas said.
The event continues to prove how powerful and symbolic silence can be. Some students stayed silent for the entire day.
“The silence is what sets everyone into perspective, because you don’t realize how profound your voice is until you can’t use it,” Medina said.