The sound of silence

Charlie Steen

Events held for National Day of Silence

In the spirit of the National Day of Silence, NMU Outlook, one of Northern’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) student organizations, will be holding silent themed events throughout the week to speak out on the anti-GLBT actions taking place across the United States.

NMU Outlook offers a social, safe and friendly environment for the GLBT community and friends.  “We are equal part activism, equal part safe place,” said Eliot Nutt, NMU Outlook’s treasurer.  “We are always here to help.”

Students protest for the rights of gay people over the world in honor of Day of Silence, where people silence themselves in order to make known the plight GLBT people who don’t have a voice. The events took place all throughout the week. The actual Day of Silence takes place on Friday, April 16. // Paul Goodrich/NW

Hosting a variety of events open to all friends and community from dances to movie nights to weekly meetings taking place in the University Center, NMU Outlook is striving to be there for those who need a safe place belong.

People who need a safe place to go or somewhere where they can safely report any cases of abuse or personal stories should look to NMU Outlook’s “nest” located at Hedgecock 3001F.

“One thing we hope to accomplish this week is to find students who don’t know where to find a place to go for support,” said Elizabeth Hightower, NMU Outlook’s member.

Students wanting to get involved in NMU Outlook, or are just looking for a safe, welcoming place, their meetings take place at 9:30 p.m. in the University Center’s Marquette Room on Tuesday nights.  “Everyone is welcome to join us,” Hightower said.

Film about gay persecution screened

On Monday, April 12, NMU Outlook screened a silent film made in 1919, “Different From the Others,” in the spirit of the National Day of Silence. The movie tells the story of a violinist, Paul Korner, who falls in love with one of his male students.

“Others” was originally made as a form of protest to the law that made homosexuality a criminal offense in Germany.

Part of the story is told through a series of flashbacks, during which we see Korner’s first discovery of his sexual orientation, his attempts to change it and subsequent understanding of it.  Kormer ends up in court for his orientation, and even though he is released by a sympathetic judge, his orientation becomes public and ruins his career, bringing him to suicide.

The movie is symbolic of what NMU OUTlook is attempting to achieve.

“We are reflecting on those that can no longer speak on their own,” said Joshua Garnett, NMU OUTlook’s member.  “We are trying to achieve more visibility on how certain members of our community are treated and how it is unfair.”

On Tuesday, April 13 various members of NMU OUTlook stood in the Academic Mall reading police reports and stories, as well as allowing those who are willing to share their own personal stories aloud to passing students. OUTlook hopes to raise the awareness of students by the use of real stories that have happened and that these events happen to real people.

“We want to get people thinking,” Hightower said. “We want to help those that have been silenced.”

Students fight for gay rights

NMU OUTlook took action with the silent protests in the academic mall on Wednesday, April 14 for the National Day of Silence (officially on Friday, April 16, 2010).“

By the time I get through with all things I admire about people, what they do with their private parts is so low on the list that it is irrelevant” read a sign held by OUTlook’s Hightower, quoting actor, director and humanitarian Paul Newman. Hightower and several other members stood in silent protest for the GLBT community who have been silenced and bringing awareness to the injustices that they endure.

“Since I’ve joined OUTlook, I have really wanted to do an activism thing.  GLBT are always silenced and turned a blind eye to,” said Meredith Gasco, a member of NMU OUTlook.  “A Day of Silence is really about driving this point home.”

The Day of Silence is a national youth movement bringing attention to the silence faced by GLBT people and friends by harassment and bullying. Now in its 14th year, the Day of Silence has grown to be the biggest student-led action for creating safer schools and communities.

In this non-violent, non-confrontational and respectful protest to students and the academic process, NMU OUTlook members proudly stood in silence, with tape over their mouths for added symbolism, and were handing out fliers, holding posters and sporting hand-made shirts for the voices that are no longer heard and in hope for more acceptance of their lifestyle.

“It is our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” Gasco said.