This year for Day of Silence we ask the question ‘What does it mean to unlearn something?’.
To start with, it can be taking a step back from preconceived ideas or opinions we hold 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 modes of behaviour and how to relate to those around us. The ways in which we perform and enact these behaviours are contingent upon our 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 situate homophobia, biphobia and transphobia within a societal, historical and ideological context. It is to give recognition that we come into a world that has a prescription 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 deviation of 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 internalize and perpetuate.
To unlearn is to actively engage with these assumptions we hold, to question them and understand where these assumptions come from.
To unlearn is to actively face our ignorance and to privilege the experiences of those who embody marginalized identities as valid sources of truth.
To unlearn is to take responsibility for our privilege by educating ourselves around transphobia, biphobia and homophobia.
To unlearn is a call to personal action and a challenge to release the power we hold, to shift and undo what is considered “normal” and “acceptable”, in the hope of recreating a society safe for all to thrive.
What are the best ways to start unlearning homophobia, transphobia and biphobia and begin work to supporting rainbow communities?
1) Assess your attitude towards *LGBTQIA+ people – Why do you think these things? Are they definitely true? What do others think
4) Actively seek ways you can promote the fair treatment of LGBTQIA+ people. 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, click on one of the images below!