Students on campus paused Wednesday in honor of the National Day of Silence, keeping mum in remembrance of those silenced by “harassment, prejudice and discrimination.”
The Day of Silence was only one of the events the Queer-Straight Alliance, PRISM and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Cooperative at Yale organized for “Pride Week,” which began last Sunday and ends this weekend. The week has been host to guest speakers, a poetry reading, panel discussions about how one cultivates “queer-friendly” societies, and an “OUTrageous Theater Party” in the Yale Repertory Theater Lounge.
Emily Wills ’03, an organizer of the week’s events, said this year’s theme — “Performing the Queer Nation” — reflects interest in understanding how the entire world, not only “the people in Manhattan and San Francisco,” deals with “queer issues.”
“It’s an opportunity for queer people to get together and theorize about our lives,” Wills said. “We’re doing a lot more thinking about what brings us together.”
That thinking was apparent at a talk given by Jennifer Terry on Tuesday.
The University of California at Berkeley professor spoke about “Sexual Rights in Transnational Perspective,” delineating the terms of “queerness here” and sexual identification across national boundaries. In other nations, women bathing women and men kissing on the lips is not taboo as it is in the United States, she said. Terry also drew parallels between racism and sexual identity discrimination.
Yesterday, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, writer and theorist, gave a talk titled “Touching Feelings,” followed by another talk by poet Yaroslav Mogutin about “the Slava Experience.” To complement the individual speakers, a plethora of panels has dotted the week’s events.
Discussions about creating a “Queer-Friendly” America, Latin America, Asia and working America addressed queer issues in other hemispheres, as well as in myriad sectors of society.
Tom Ogletree ’03 said that even on a liberal campus like Yale’s, increasing visibility brings the issue into the spotlight.
“A lot of Yale events get buried in the day-to-day student life at Yale,” Ogletree said. “Although we don’t need to heighten awareness, we still need to be heightening visibility.”
Wills said there are many enclaves of the Yale community in which homosexuals experience discrimination.
“There are a lot of areas on campus where LGBT aren’t as respected as they’d like to be,” she said, adding that many homosexuals feel the rift between their identities and religious and cultural communities. She said that hardships faced by LGBT individuals parallel what many minority groups have faced in the past — fighting against heteronormativity, the paradigm that dictates that if one isn’t “straight, white, upper-middle class, you’re just not good enough.”