Why I'm Wearing Purple On Spirit Day -- And Why You Should, Too
It's more than likely you'll be clicking over to Facebook within the next ten minutes of reading this article. When you're there you're probably going to see a big shift in the color scheme. Do not adjust your sets.
Today, and every October 17, is the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) sponsored Spirit Day. It's one more bit of proof that activism is as easy as showing your friends that you believe in something.
Millions wear purple on Spirit Day as a sign of support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth and to speak out against bullying. Spirit Day was started in 2010 by high school student Brittany McMillan as a response to the young people who had taken their own lives.
Changing your profile picture to something with you in purple isn't just a nice gesture -- it's a reminder to every young person who sees your page that you realize hate has no place in our society anymore. You'll be in some pretty great company, too.
Major celebs are lining up to be #SpiritDay ambassadors, including Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Jason Collins, Laverne Cox, the cast of "Degrassi," Elvis Duran, Snooki & JWoww, Jimmy Kimmel, and the cast of "Modern Family."
You even have major landmarks like Las Vegas' Fremont Street Experience, the LAX pylon lights, the New York Stock Exchange, and Times Square, including billboards at American Eagle Outfitters, MTV, NASDAQ, and the Thomson Reuters building all going purple today. Even some of the most unexpected players in the NFL, NBA, NHL and WWE are showing their support.
So, what's your excuse?
We're pretty damned lucky to be growing up in a time as progressive as this, but there is so much more to do to make things better and safer for our friends. As I mentioned in an earlier piece for Elite Daily: whether you're gay or straight (or anywhere else on the spectrum), high school -- and college -- are times of incredible change and growth.
Even the coolest jock among us questioned all the weird sh*t we felt inside. Whether it was hormones, harassment or horniness, we all went through some rough times fitting in. Take that lowest low you ever felt and add the fear of being kicked out of your home, expelled from your private school and all the stories of burning in hell thrown at you day after day.
That kind of compassion that you just felt -- the compassion felt in the split-second you thought about how damned hard it is for that kid -- is exactly what's made Gen-Y so cool with "the whole gay thing."
"As our country moves closer to full legal equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, LGBT youth continue to face staggering rates of bullying at school," GLAAD spokesman (and my very good friend) Wilson Cruz said. "Spirit Day is an opportunity for all of us to send a message of support to LGBT youth everywhere and for those young people to hold their heads high while our nation stands behind them."
Wilson knows a thing or two about being a courageous role model for youth as one of the first openly gay teen actors on television when he starred on "My So Called Life" with Claire Danes.
Getting involved is easy -- participants are asked to simply "go purple" on October 17, as we work to create a world in which LGBT teens are celebrated and accepted for who they are.