As the National Day of Silence approaches this Friday the 19th, the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Resource Center is honoring allies who reach out to people who are marginalized to give mutual respect and inclusion. Kai Martinez is the director of the center located on the campus of the University of Utah. He says Ally Awareness Week puts the focus on the support system.
“And they will say you know I have these privileges," Martinez explains, I’m going to use my privilege as social capital to make situations better for people who don’t have this same privilege.”
He says Ally Awareness Week recognizes the silence LGBT people are forced into for safety. Documentary producer and hate crime victim Erin Davies is the keynote speaker. Her film was screened followed by a discussion. Her Volkswagen Beetle was vandalized in Albany, New York with derogatory words referring to homosexuals. She decided to leave the graffiti on the car and document peoples’ reactions.
“I think words can only hurt you as much as you let them," says Davies. "But I think it’s good to not deal with these sorts of things in silence and I think it’s good to, you know, bring it out there in a visible way to get people to talk about it.”
Davies made her first Salt Lake City stop with the car in 2007 and says she feels things just now are beginning to change. She is on her way to the west coast to have her car shipped to Hawaii, then Alaska. With funding from a popular on-line fund raising source, she will have driven in all 50 states.