TW: Murder and anti-gay violence, specifically: Rebecca Wight.
The Week of Action 2014 is officially on the calendar, which means the preparation for the event has begun! All posts from prior years’ Weeks can be found in the archives under the tag Week of Action.
The Week of Action Movement had been building in progress for a few years before it took its present form and was influenced by a number of different events, from my discovery of a woman named Rebecca Wight to a similar event that was held in the spring of 2011. Flash back to this time five years ago, I was extremely unhappy, entirely closeted, and not an activist for anything in any sense of the word. I wanted to do something in support of LGBT people – my desire for activism was triggered earlier that year after watching a film about a gay man who commits suicide – but I was terrified. I didn’t know how to be an activist for LGBT rights without outing myself as gay. At that time, that was out of the question. But even then, I was drawn to LGBT hate crime victims, and that summer, I discovered the story of Rebecca Wight.
Rebecca Wight was a 28-year-old bisexual woman who was killed in an act of anti-gay violence. On May 13, 1988, she and her girlfriend were on a camping trip in the Pennsylvania portion of the Appalachian Trail when they encountered a man who proceeded to stalk and shoot them eight times from afar while they were making love. Her girlfriend survived the attack and went on to write a book about the experience. Rebecca did not – she died at the scene. When I discovered this story, it affected me in ways I could not entirely understand at the time – something about it just seemed so incredibly sad. After becoming invested in her story, I decided I had to do something; I couldn’t just sit in silence anymore. Within the next three months, I had come out and begun to do activist work – both of which I give her credit for.
Fast forward to the spring of 2011. I realized that May 13 would happen to fall on a Friday, the same day Rebecca was killed in 1988, and thought, “I should do something that day.” At the time – keep in mind, this was mere months after I was a victim of an anti-gay assault – I was also losing the will to fight and continue activist work, as it was starting to seem a hopeless cause. I decided to lead what I called a “Rainbow Vigil”, a memorial for Rebecca and five other hate crime victims. That day, I made video tributes and wore six colored ribbons on my arm – each representing a different color of the rainbow flag and a different person – in the hopes that it would rejuvenate my will to fight and remind me that these people are the reason I keep fighting. The Week of Action Movement was built from this event.
The Week of Action Movement
The Week of Action Movement as it stands now is an expansion of the “Rainbow Vigil” I took part in that spring. It is still a mix of a vigil and a statement that pays tribute to the victims of an anti-LGBT society, but instead of a small, quiet memorial for personal reflection, the Week of Action is dedicated to action and change. The purpose of the Week is to remember the past, to change the present, and to hope for the future. As the name would suggest, the movement is a week-long event that centers around action, awareness, and activism, in remembrance of Rebecca Wight and the numerous others who have lost their lives in a world that breeds hate and intolerance. It is my belief that we have a duty to speak out while we remember these people, as their voices were stolen from them and they no longer can. The Week of Action takes place during the first or second week of May every year, with the dates adjusted annually.
My challenge to everyone who takes part in the Week of Action Movement is do something positive for the LGBT community during the Week. Just one thing – though you can certainly do more if you like. Something that makes the world a little better and a little safer for LGBT people in memory of those who lived and died in a world where it was not. What this looks like is entirely up to you – it can be as small or as large of an act as you want it to be. Call someone out on their homophobic or transphobic viewpoints. Reach out to someone and let them know that you are an ally. Write your legislators to change an anti-LGBT law. Spread awareness of the violence that continues to happen today against the most marginalized members of our community. Whatever you feel driven to do for the LGBT community, I challenge you to use this event as an opportunity do it.
2014 Week and Themes
The Week of Action 2014 will begin Monday, May 5 and will end Sunday, May 11. This year will be different in that the event will NOT fall over May 13 like it has in years past. I have discovered in the years of running this event on that date that I am unable to do so; I do not have the energy and in fact was unable to complete the event in 2012 and 2013 because of this. Like the Week of Action 2013, each day will be themed with a different color and concept, one for each stripe of the rainbow flag:
Monday, May 5 – Red (life)
Tuesday, May 6 – Orange (healing)
Wednesday, May 7 – Yellow (sunshine)
Thursday, May 8 – Green (nature)
Friday, May 9 – Blue (serenity / harmony)
Saturday, May 10 – Purple (spirit)
Sunday, May 11 – Rainbow (hope / promise)
What I’m Going to Do
I really don’t know how I’m going to top what I did in 2013, which was to finally come forward with my own story of anti-gay violence. If my state’s proposed constitutional amendment to ban anything “substantially similar to marriage” is still alive come May, I will likely focus my efforts on that. As always, I will create a list of people who have either been murdered or committed suicide because of their sexuality / gender identity. The above colors will signify all of them; I will assign each person a color and correlating concept that I feel best expresses who they were as a person. Each day of the Week, I will post resources for you to learn about the story and legacy of the people assigned to that day’s color if you so choose. I find that the easiest way to observe each day’s theme is through my clothing – a shirt to announce the movement, colored belts with the names for that particular color written across them – in a way that will entice people to ask what I’m doing and why. And of course, I will be documenting here all I find and do.
What You Can Do
Take part however you feel compelled! The movement is whatever makes it mean something to you. What is important is that we want to incite change and are choosing to act. If you are interested in the ideas I have laid out for myself, feel free to use them or modify them as you see fit. If you have an entirely different approach, go for it. Those who take part in the Week of Action are all working toward a common goal however they choose to observe it – the creation of a better society for LGBT people through deliberate action.