Yom HaShoah And The Day Of Silence
As a gay, Jewish man identity is something I take very seriously, and something that I question daily. Which aspect of my personality is more important? My Judaism, my faith in God, and sense of duty towards the world? Or my homosexuality, my fight for equality, and my duty to educate the world about the LGBT community? Both of these aspects are important in how I define myself. I’ve wrestled with this question for a while, but this past week as Yom HaShoah and the Day of Silence approached, I came to the realization that neither aspect is more important. They are both beautiful components of who I am and they both serve to make me a stronger individual. But what of those who have been silenced?
Yom HaShoah is a day of remembrance for those who perished in the Holocaust. In Israel a siren is sounded, stopping all activity in the country. Even traffic comes to a stop, and people step out of their cars, standing at attention for two minutes of silent devotion. The Holocaust caused horrible suffering for the Jewish people, but is also effected many others, including the homosexuals in Germany. Gay men were killed or tortured during the Holocaust, because their identity did not seem to benefit the idea of creating a master race. Many were forced to conform sexually and socially, while others refused. Those who bravely refused were sent to concentration camps, while some were even castrated. Although some lesbians were targeted, they were not as widely persecuted because of the German view of women as subservient, which made it easier to force them to comply with the ideas of sexual norms.
The Day of Silence, an LGBT protest that began at the University of Virginia in 1996. It is a movement that encourages students to take a vow of silence to call attention to the harsh effects of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in schools. While the group advocates protesting, it does remind participants to be respectful and encourages them to notify their teachers ahead of time to avoid confusion and trouble. This day has become increasingly important in the past few years as LGBT suicides have become more prominent in the media.
Both of these wonderul days incorporate the idea of silence. Through silence, we commemorate those who have been lost to injustice and ignorance, and we commemorate those who are currently suffering from such afflictions. We must make an effort to recognize the pain and suffering those before us have gone through. In a world full of noise and distractions it is easy to lose sight of what others have endured for simply being who they are. With silence we are forced to remember them, to look in ourselves, question our own identities, and find what is the most important to us.
These occasions of silence should also serve to be calls of actions. Be the voice for those who are voiceless, those who can no longer speak. Be the courage for those who are afraid, who are suffering. Be the hero for that LGBT youth who is victimized by their peer for being different. Remember those before us who have suffered for being different, and be their voice today. Stand tall and proud. Stand on principle, and never allow yourself to fall victim because of your identity. Celebrate who you are, and be the fight, be the change you wish to see. If we remain quiet, we only allow others to drown out our voices, our rights. Remember and honor, but do not remain quiet when you see injustice. Embrace your identities, whatever they may be, and never be silenced again. My voice is my weapon, and I am proud to be a gay, Jewish man.
Nicholas T.B.C Artrip. 19. Gay Jew. VCU student, and Alpha Epsilon Pi brother. My life is a cabaret of religion and disco trash.
“We urge Urban Outfitters to immediately remove the product eerily reminiscent of clothing forced upon the victims of the Holocaust from their stores and online.”February 11, 2015
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