This Southern Faggot's Blog


Silence = Death

I have a lot of thoughts about a lot of things jumbled up in my thoughts right now and I am having trouble separating them. Hopefully this will help.

I have never been in a relationship. Ever. Except that one time when I was a kid at the pool and all the kids decided that me and someone, who I didn’t know, named Betsy, were dating. Betsy’s mom introduced herself to my dad and I was so confused at what was going on. Our “relationship” didn’t last long. Come to think of it, I’m not sure I ever actually met Betsy. With that being said, I can’t stand people who are so ~*in love*~ with whoever that all they can talk about is ~*them~*, or the next time they will see ~*them*~, or how wonderful ~*they*~ are.  It has gotten to the point where, when I see people who are this ~*in love*~, it somewhat invalidates everything else they might say or do (and I feel awful in saying that, but I don’t know another way to say it).  It feels like to me that they have allowed themselves to be tricked, by this idea of love, which apparently I don’t believe in. Like they have fallen into this trap of sweet monogamy that has been built for us, so that we get each other cute cards, settle down and never fuck anyone else. Unfortunately, nothing I could ever say would convince anyone that I am not saying this out of jealously. I guess I am fine with that, maybe I am just jealous, but deep down it does not feel like jealously, at all. (note: this isn’t me harping on all relationships, mostly just the ones that spring up and suddenly the two people are ~*in love*~ and thats all they can talk about).

Their has been some chatter on the Facebook, over the saying “Silence = Death”, which has had me thinking about how silence and vulnerability work together in my daily interactions with people. I often get the feeling that people don’t feel that my name and pronoun/gender are very important to me, as I don’t fight tooth and nail (not sure what that even means) to make sure that people always use the correct name or pronoun. I think that what people don’t realize, is that it takes a whole fucking lot of energy (which I don’t have) to constantly be on guard, waiting for that fuck up of theirs, so that you can fix it. I hate that I feel my silence towards people on this, feels like it is giving them permission to continue fucking up.

But my silence isn’t death, it’s helping me continue to live in an awful world where I have to have some shred of energy to continue to live.

Clearly ‘Silence = Death’ is not a new saying, but somehow I had forgotten about it. Seeing it for the first time in years, I started to look at it in less of a historical context (which feels weird to call it), but more of how visibility, death, silence, invisibility, boxes, closets, etc. all factor into this seemingly simple phrase of, Silence = Death and how all of these things are so difficult to talk about in a Queer context, as we are still learning how to communicate in a new, fabulous Queer way. I am just worried that people read this saying, say to themselves “Silence = BAD, Visibility = GOOD” and leave it at that, which is clearly very problematic for lots of folks and completely ignoring folks pasts, choices, desires, etc.

I am amazed and glad that this, from Little Light over on Feministe came up at the time it did. I think that a lot of times, we talk about things in a way that refuses to put a name to the monster that is ‘vulnerability.’ Talking about vulnerability automatically makes you vulnerable, which is often really scary, but that is something that I need to do a better job of. When I have the energy, at least.

See, I can refuse to admit vulnerability, but that won’t make me not vulnerable.  There is nothing that can do that, not even covering myself up with layers and layers of the armor we all use to get through the day and pretending away the ugly things and the hard parts of my history and everyone else’s.  This isn’t about complaining.  I’m just stating facts that are, yes, relevant to who I am, why I participate in feminism and the greater movement toward social justice, why and how and what I write and contribute.  Pretending it isn’t so forces me into a strange and inhuman position where we just posture at each other.  You’re not vulnerable, I’m not vulnerable, let’s have an abstract debate about theories, and hey, justify your feelings, and hey, little lady, the grownups are talking and why are you so upset and come back, we were just having a friendly little debate about ideas, and what do you mean this is real life for you?

This didn’t go where I wanted it to, at all. I wish that I was better at writing down my thoughts and ideas, in a way that I feel would make sense to anyone. I will ask for that for Christmas.

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4 Comments so far
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Yes yes — here’s to vulnerability, that’s what I’m trying for these days too!

Although, with regard to “silence = death,” I mostly see it as a very specific act up slogan relating to saving the lives of people with HIV by speaking up (although, of course, with the pink triangle it is referencing the Holocaust, so that does get much broader…)

Love —
mattilda

Comment by Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore

I guess that’s what i meant, when I was talking about looking at the statement in less of a historical light (historical isn’t the right word at all, but bare (bear) with me). In the context of Act Up, it has a very specific meaning, which I think in that context, is pretty clear. But if I was to just stumble upon the saying, without knowing the history of where it came from, I would read it as a silence (closet) = death (literal and figurative). But in this context, where is where I was thinking of it from, it sounds like it would be easy for people to read this as a ‘being in the closet/silence is bad/dangerous’, when in reality, for lots of folks, silence is what is keeping them/us alive.

Comment by thissouthernfaggot

“Mostly just the ones that spring up and suddenly the two people are ~*in love*~ and thats all they can talk about”.

I think people do this because it is incredibly fucking fun. Like, ridiculously so. And yea, it’s maybe not always a great/healthy idea, but lots of things that folks do for fun fall under that category. It’s a way to get high.

ps – I like your writing a lot. It’s like a list of what’s important to you, given to me, so that I know how to better take care of you. Or take care of us. Or something.

Comment by Nick

100% agree with this statement.

but i must say:
1. i totally believe in love, and being in it.
2. i think each relationship is different, and choosing to monogamous, or polyamorous, or open, or whatever, is up to the people involved, and what they feel is best and most healthy and capable of the relationship. that being said, no one should fall into the trap of being in whatever type of relationship before careful consideration and thought going into it.
3. never once have i thought you were jealous of stuff like that.

ps:
<3!

Comment by leila




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