April 6, 2001

DASH Unites for Silence

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Calling attention to the suppression of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (LGBT) voices, Direct Action to Stop Homophobia said nothing.

Members of DASH encouraged others to follow them in taking a nine-hour pledge of silence on Wednesday in recognition of the fifth annual National Day of Silence.

“Throughout history there have been people who have been silent due to homophobia,” said Christopher Stubbs ’02, DASH president.

“In the rally, we try to get people to think about everyone whose voices have been silent because of discrimination, though the focus is on discrimination [based on] sexual orientation,” Stubbs said.

About 15 people participated in the silent rally held at noon on Ho Plaza, according to Gwendolyn Dean, Coordinator of the LGBT Resource Center. The silence was “broken” in the evening, as about 30 people of all sexual orientations marched to Robert Purcell Community Center, Dean said.

“For most of the day, it wasn’t difficult to remain silent because I believe in the cause so much, and I knew that by not talking I was showing my support,” said Alissa Henza ’03, coordinator of the rally.

“I got a lot of inquisitive looks, though,” she added.

Throughout the day, quarter cards and stickers were handed to passers-by to describe National Day of Silence and for students joining the rally to explain their silence to other students.

“The cards show that we’re being silenced everywhere at all times and that it happens here [at Cornell],” said Hugh Ryan ’00, DASH advisor.

Two examples on the cards alluded to actions against homosexuals and transsexuals in residence halls, where LGBT posters have sometimes been vandalized, and in Cornell’s Reserved Officer Training Corps (ROTC).

“Although lesbian, gay and bisexual people can’t serve openly, not all units have consistent policies, so students still have worries,” Dean said.

Chapter 37 of Title 10 of the United States Code, better known as the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Policy,” was created to regulate the procedures of the U.S. Armed Forces.

It states that “a member of the armed forces shall be separated from the armed forces under regulations prescribed by the Secretary of Defense if … the member has engaged in, attempted to engage in, or solicited another to engage in a homosexual act.”

A member of the armed forces may also be discharged if “the member has stated that he or she is a homosexual or bisexual.”

The primary purpose of the examples printed on cards, however, were to draw attention to historic and current silencing of homosexuals and transsexuals, according to Henza, rather than to the ROTC issue.

“We’re not assaulting ROTC or the residence halls, we’re just saying that the problem exists and we’re bringing out the problem,” Henza said.

The rally is part of “Gaypril,” which brings attention to gay rights during the month of April.

Archived article by Peter Lin