Friday, April 25, 2008

Reflections on the Day of Silence Part 1

As the meditated cacophony of Latin American accents reverberated dully off the concrete walls, my eye glazed over only to catch themselves mid-slouch and resume the task of focusing on the presenters. My attention waxed and waned in tandem with the awareness of my jaw extending itself just enough to hold the damp cotton fabric firmly against my tingling mouth. It was the National Day of Silence. It was an international conference on Latin American social movements. The activist in me was gagged in solidarity with those who have suffered from hate crimes. The queer in me was bound* in the elastic cloth that sought to justify my gender deviance through pushing it even further. Who was I? What was I doing there? Why was I wearing a handkerchief over my mouth?

The only explanation I offered was the blue and white Puerto Rican name tagged crookedly to my shirt. I sat there an ex-student (in)activist, enduring a performance of the academy that was at best theatrical and at worst esoteric. I needed air in too many ways to count…

*binding- the practice of flattening one's breast tissue against the chest implying an effort to present in a less feminine manner

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