TW: mentions of death, anti-LGBT violence.
For those of you who weren’t around in May, you may or may not know about the other event I lead, the Week of Action. The Week of Action is the other project being hosted alongside the Stories Project on this site; it is actually the one that came first, the one from which the Stories Project grew out of and the one for which this site is named. I ran it for the first time this year and plan to run it in some form every year. What it is is a week dedicated to action, awareness, and activism where I challenge all who take part to do at least one positive thing for the LGBT community, at least one thing that makes the world even a little better for LGBT people to exist in. The Week of Action runs in memory of those who lived and died in a world where it was not safe to be LGBT – the hate crime victims, the people who committed suicide because of anti-LGBT bullying, and others. This event too grew from an event prior to it, a highly symbolic “vigil night” I held on the same date in 2011, a very personal tribute for one of the people that affected me the most that was supposed to motivate me into not giving up on activism. If you go back through the “Week of Action” tag, you can read a bit about the event this year.
As I have to start planning the event months in advance, and as we are approaching the end of 2012, I feel it’s safe to say I am “moving into” the Week of Action season, and I’ve been giving it a lot of thought. To be honest, I’ve been giving it thought since the conclusion of the Week this year. I am satisfied with its outcome – it motivated people to put in a conscious effort to help the LGBT community, and it certainly raised visibility of the victims I was spotlighting, many of whom those I spoke with had never heard of. I love the idea, I appreciate the confidence and role this sort of event forced me to take on, but I also know I made some mistakes with this year’s Week. One of the biggest was overexerting myself – I way overestimated the amount I could truly take on. For the 2012 Week, I attempted to write out the story of each of the specific people I was choosing to memorialize – all almost-70 of them. The mental and emotional toll of this task was much greater than I realized. I had focused so much on learning the stories, in every horrific detail, for seven weeks and it weighed on me. I broke down after finishing Rebecca Wight’s (easily the 50th or more story I’d written), cried inconsolably for three days, and could not write any more. I could barely finish the Week in that state. This year, I have got to find a new way of memorializing the fallen, because trying to do written stories is far, far too draining.
2013 will be a milestone year for several of the people included in the first Week. In 2013, it will be the twenty-five year anniversary of Rebecca Wight’s death, the fifteenth anniversary of Matthew Shepard’s death, the fifth anniversary of Angie Zapata’s death. I’m sure there are more I am leaving out, but my point stands – 2013 is going to be a significant year. I would like the Week of Action to reflect this, and would like to make it a larger event than it was this year. I would like the event itself to be larger and for it to be more large-scale, meaning more people taking part. I am not entirely sure how to do this at this time (as always, I would love to hear ideas). How do I adequately reflect what this year is going to mean to a lot of people, myself included? 25 is significant. 15 is significant. There has to be something I can do with the event that will reflect this. I suppose I could go back to the people I have spoken with for the Stories Project and see how they would go about it, but that would work a little better if I had spoken with more than three people this year.
The only thing I’ve managed to sort out that I am certain of are the dates – the Week of Action 2013 will kick off Monday, May 6 and run through Sunday, May 12, with an additional “vigil day” on Monday, May 13. I am sure of those dates. Since I want the Week to always fall close to May 13, I decided I could either start it or complete it on that day in 2013. I felt it made more sense to end it there, due in part to my own issues with that date (that became very evident this year). It’s the anniversary of a murder and as I had trouble with that this year, it’s better to end there than begin there so I am better able to focus my efforts. I am undecided at this point as to what the day themes will be. This year, each day was themed with one color of the rainbow flag and the meaning that accompanies the color – for example, Monday was Red Day, red signifying life. Sunday was Rainbow Day, rainbow signifying hope and promise. They may or may not be the same in 2013. I’ve toyed with other ideas – such as theming the days with a concept – but none have called out to me in the way these ones did this year. I’ve given thought to wearing strips of cloth or ribbon on the Vigil Day, one dark and one rainbow, as a symbol of the past and the future. A way of saying that though the events of the past may be tragic and awful, we can look to the promise and hope of the future.
I am also not sure what I intend to do that will benefit the LGBT community during the Week! That is part of the entire purpose of the event, to make the world better for LGBT people, and last year I accomplished this by creating this event and issuing the challenge to others. In 2013, I don’t feel that will be enough. That is acceptable for the first year of trying to get such a project going, but I would feel unaccomplished and lazy if I were to rely on that as my way of taking action each year. As I have said 2013 is significant to me, I want to take action in a way that is equally significant. I’ve not yet figured out how I can do this.
I have decided that, during the Week of Action 2013, I will finally share my story, the one I have kept hidden for what will have been two years by that point. “But Meg,” I’m sure you are saying, “You never shut up about your story. You talk about being gay all the time.” While this is true, there is a portion of my story I’ve been too afraid to share until this point. The truth is, I am also a victim, not only of anti-gay bullying and harassment (which a number of people do know) but anti-gay violence. I don’t want to call it a “hate crime”, as I feel that diminishes from the stories of others who faced far worse violence than I did, but yes, I was a victim of anti-gay violence. Luckily, I was the only one involved, and it did not end in death or serious injury. But after months of feeling like a hypocrite for wanting to tell the stories of hate crime victims but never sharing my own story, I feel the time is right to be open about my experience.
I am looking for suggestions about the Week of Action 2013. If you have anything at all that you would like to share, don’t hesitate to contact me, either on this page or via either email address located in the “About the Author” page. I want this to be as much your event as it is mine, that carries as much meaning to you as it does to me.