This year for Day of Silence we ask the question ‘What does it mean to unlearn something?’. To start with, it might mean taking a step back from ideas or opinions we may hold about the LGBTQIA+ community and trying to look at them differently.
Asking questions like: Why do I think this? Is it true? What do others think?
The LGBTQIA+ community has to do a lot of this thinking for ourselves and the best way to get others to understand our experiences, is to get them to ask these questions too.
From the moment we are born we learn how we are placed in this world. We learn acceptable forms of behaviour and how to relate to people around us. The ways in which we perform and enact these behaviours are shaped by societal and cultural norms.
We come into a world that has already placed value and assumptions on our identities. What it means to be a man, what it means to be a woman, what it means to be heterosexual, what it means to be anything or anyone at all.
To unlearn is to see homophobia, biphobia and transphobia as social and historical issues which affect all of us. It is to recognise that we come into a world that has a set definition of what it means to be “normal”. These norms have been shaped and are always in relation to a historical colonial context which assumes the heterosexual, *cisgender white person as the norm and any identity outside of this as “the other”.
To unlearn is to understand how we are shaped by systematic forms of oppression and the assumptions that follow of “the other” we both internalise and reinforce.
To unlearn is to question assumptions we hold and understand where they come from.
To unlearn is to actively face our ignorance and to privilege the experiences of people of marginalised identities as valid sources of truth.
To unlearn is to take responsibility for our privilege by educating ourselves about transphobia, biphobia and homophobia.
To unlearn means taking personal and collective action and to challenge and release the power we hold, to shift and undo what is considered “normal” and “acceptable”, in the hope of re-creating a society safe for everyone to thrive.
What are the best ways to start unlearning homophobia, transphobia and biphobia and begin work to supporting rainbow communities?
1) Assess your attitudes towards LGBTQIA+ people – Why do you think these things? Are they definitely true? What do others think?
2) Go to pride events and support LGBTQIA+ organisations – donate or fundraise, see what kind of support your local group needs, put a relevant poster up in your school, community centre or social spaces!
3) Increase knowledge through training or resources on being LGBTQIA+ and inclusivity
4) Actively seek ways you can promote the fair treatment of LGBTQIA+ people. You might do this through talking with friends and family, writing to politicians about laws/policies around LGBTQIA+ issues, advocating for schools and workplaces to be safe for LGBTQIA+ people.
For more tips and resources on unlearning, go here!
For more tips and resources on unlearning, click on one of the images below!