THE ULTIMATE SILENCE
October 12, 1998
Six years ago today, Matthew Shepard was murdered for being gay.
What will you do to end the silence?
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This day almost escaped me unnoticed this year, if it hadn't been for bgtothen's entry, it might very well have. That's sad, because as the years pass, I begin to let slip by the memory of how this unspeakable crime truly hit me; determination is all too quickly replaced by complacency.
Last year, I wrote this entry. Several years ago, I created this flash animation that served as sort of a catharsis to deal with the guilt I felt over the silence I spoke about in the above entry. We move on, forgetting what the cost of our silence truly can be not only to ourselves but to others.
When we hide who we are to friends, at work, at school, we deny someone the impact of knowing someone who is gay. We know that impact is meaningful. It forces people to confront their prejudices. It's easy for someone to vote in favor of laws that deny rights to gays when he doesn't see how it impacts someone he knows. This isn't to suggest that everyone should speak out or "come out" if s/he isn't ready, but recognize that there is a cost. A nation that stood shocked at the death of Matthew not so many years ago, is all too ready to outlaw our relationships, judges who stand up for our rights are smeared as "activist judges" by cowardly politicians fanning the flames of bigotry. But in some ways, we are the cowards when we don't stand up to themand othersand say it's not all right.
I still hide sometimes... but not nearly as much.
just trying to keep up with the act, we'll lie in the back of black cars,
with the windows rolled up, joining the procession of emptiness.
if we say these words, it will be too late to take them back.
so we hold our breath and fold our hands.
like paper planes, we're going to crash.
we don't have to be aloneever again.
there's a riot in the theater, someone's standing in the aisle,
yelling that the murderers are everywhere, and they're lining up,
carving "M" into your side....
i'm disappearing, into the spotlight, i'm on display,
with the butterfly and the scarecrow.
with smiles like picket fences, you tie us all up and leave us outside.
that voice is silent now, the boat has sunk, we're on our own,
but we're not going to run.