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Thursday 29 June 2017

Speaking out against the silence

Posted in: Our Communities
By - 30th July 2016

InsideOUT have launched a series of teaser films, featuring archival audio from the Homosexual Law Reform campaign, ahead of this year’s Day of Silence. The National Day of Silence is a day of action in which students across New Zealand vow to take a form of silence to call attention to the silencing effect of homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying, name-calling and harassment in schools.

Artist behind the films Laura Duffy says the idea came after attending a screening of Thin Edge of the Wedge, a documentary style film in which Gareth Watkins has put together footage from the time surrounding the law reform.

“The film gave are an insight into a history which I didn’t know existed, which may speak to my ignorance or may speak to the silence of this history within our taught history,” she says.

“After viewing the documentary I realised the importance of being able to locate your identity within a historical movement.”

“It is sad because there was an extreme lack of trans and queer Māori voices within the film.
The silence of these identities can not carry on, we need to open up the conversation to these people who have been excluded in the documenting of this history. Which is part of the ‘how far we have to go’ part of the argument. “

She says history of law reform in New Zealand is important for young people to know “It’s a feeling of pride to know that there were, and there are, people who care and fight for our rights.”

InsideOUT Schools Coordinator Connor Mcleod agrees. “As young people, the notion of oppression is sometimes so overwhelming and forceful. When we look back however, we see how far we have truly come as a community. It not only gives us an insight into how things have changed, but hope for the future. As well as that, it puts us in touch with a part of history that most of us were never taught in our schools or families.”

This year the Day of Silence falls on September 9 and InsideOUT encourages people to get involved with the campaign, Connor says “There are a wide range of ways to get involved! Students might organise a Day of Silence within their schools, getting their peers to be silent for the day in acknowledgement of the silencing effects of homophobic, biphobic, and transphobic bullying.

“Holding a mufti day where students wear black is another great idea for representation, and this as well as other fundraising ideas are a great way to give donations to local rainbow diversity groups or rainbow charities. Some might also hold a ‘Night of Noise’, a night of discussion through ways such as speeches, poetry, music, and art. All in the theme of ‘where to from here?’,” he says.

“Young sexual, gender, and sex minority people need to feel socially connected, to feel physically and mentally supported, to be advocated for, and to be educated on. Creating spaces where this is possible, or where dialogue of this starts to happen is one of the purposes of InsideOUT and the Day of Silence. It needs to be recognised that our young people are very at risk, and experience hugely disproportionate rates of abuse.”

Laura highlights the fact there is still a lot that needs to be done in relation to trans equality. “Specifically within schools,” she says. “InsideOUT is a youth for youth organisation and we see and extreme need for equality within schools and healthcare.”

- 30th July 2016

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