The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

UMW PRISM observes Day of Silence Vigil to honor LGBTQ individuals affected by hatred, students gather in support

3 min read
UMW community members wear red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple shirts in front of Monroe Hall

Vigil attendees joined together to wear red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple shirts to show their pride and support. | Photo courtesy of UMW PRISM


Staff Writer

“Being different enriches being alive,” said Arden Jones, a senior English: Creative writing major who participated in PRISM’s LGBTQ Day of Silence Vigil on April 12.  

UMW PRISM, a student-led club focused on creating a safe space for the LGBTQ community on campus, joins universities nationwide to observe this Day of Silence every second Friday of April each year. 

“It’s a national day to commemorate LGBTQ+ voices that have been historically silenced and continue to be silenced today, whether that be from homophobia, transphobia, hate crimes, harassment, bullying, etc.,” said Edward Haggerty, a senior political science major and the president of PRISM.  

For Nadia Cloud, a junior communication and digital studies and studio art double major, the vigil serves to reflect on LGBTQ figures who have influenced the community. 

“Day of Silence is to commemorate those who maybe have gone through worse than I have, or maybe anyone who just doesn’t feel accepted as queer or trans or even on the [asexual] spectrum,” said Cloud. “I want to commemorate those [individuals] and also those who have made strides in the LGBTQ community, whether they have passed away or have created LGBTQ representation.” 

At noon, UMW students and faculty stood in front of the Monroe Fountain to show their support and observe a moment of silence for members of the LGBTQ community who have been impacted by hatred, such as homophobia and transphobia. According to the Human Rights Campaign, over 520 anti-LGBTQ bills have been presented in state legislatures in the past year. 

During the event, PRISM distributed red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple shirts with the message “We are still here.” For some students, these shirts are a way to show their support, and for others, the shirts are a way to voice their pride within the LGBTQ community.  

 “I got to be honest, I like how it’s kind of subtle so I can wear it in front of my homophobic family,” said Cloud. “It’s nice to see other people wearing this shirt because you really see it holds a sense of community.” 

While students honored silenced LGBTQ individuals, they were also able to find a larger sense of community on campus in the Underground at Lee Hall, which was dedicated as an open space for LGBTQ students to gather and connect over snacks.

“UMW has a huge queer population compared to a lot of colleges from what I’ve noticed. The first week I came to Mary Washington … I was surrounded by a lot of other queer people,” said Cloud. “And I’ve seen a lot of people here at Mary Washington be out and proud, and I think that’s amazing.”  

Haggerty added that UMW’s James Farmer Multicultural Center also plays a big part in supporting PRISM’s mission. 

“I think that [the JFMC] really does a great job at promoting helping everyone feel welcome at the school no matter where they are,” said Haggerty. “And I know a lot of schools don’t have centers like that.” 

PRISM is dedicated to creating LGBTQ-friendly spaces on campus, and Day of Silence is only one of their events that inspires community on campus. 

“We have [a] drag show, we have PRISM prom, and those are great experiences. But we also have meetings where we just sit around and do arts and crafts, or we watch a movie, or we have board games,” said Haggerty. “If you’re part of the LGBT community, questioning, whatever, providing that space I think is really great for people.”