Happy Spirit Day!
Anyone browsing social media today will see lots of queer celebs, activists, and allies wearing purple and posting anti-bullying messages. That’s because it's Spirit Day, when millions of people “go purple” to show their support for and solidarity with LGBTQ+ youth. What started as one person’s blog post, is now the largest LGBTQ+ anti-bullying campaign in the world!
But what are the origins of the annual event?
Back in 2010, high schooler Brittany McMillan had become worn down by seeing tragic stories of queer youth taking their lives as a result of homophobic bullying. So she decided that on October 20, she and her friends would wear purple in honor of those student’s memories and in support of queer youth. She posted about the idea on her Tumblr.
McMillan wrote an original blog post that day describing the first Spirit Day.
“It’s been decided. On October 20th, we will wear purple in memory of the recent gay suicides. Many of them suffered from homophobic abuse in their schools or in their homes. We want to take a stand to say that we will not tolerate this. Purple represents Spirit on the LGBTQ flag and that’s exactly what we’d like all of you to have with you: spirit. Please know that times will get better and that you will meet people who will love you and respect you for who you are, no matter your sexuality. Please wear purple on October 20th to remember all the lives of LGBTQ youth that have been lost due to homophobia. Tell your friends, co-workers, neighbors and schools.”
Collage via @CraziestCupcake on Twitter
GLAAD reports that 53.1% of LGBTQ+ students of color feel unsafe at school because of their gender or sexual orientation. One in four transgender students reported experiencing physical harassment at school because of their gender. They also found that 70% of LGBTQ+ students reported being verbally harassed, and 58% reported they felt unsafe at school. Spirit Day hopes to combat that.
You can go to GLAAD.org to find out ways you can support and take part in Spirit Day, including taking a pledge, finding resources, donating, and making your own purple post on the 21st.
You can stand with LGBTQ+ youth too, by wearing purple and sharing posts about Spirit Day. Join in the movement, and find out more at GLAAD.org.