Metro Weekly

Allies and supporters of LGBT community “go purple” for Spirit Day

Boeing, Kellogg's, the NBA and MLB, and a host of LGBT groups and other allies shared their support on social media

Lambda Legal celebrates Spirit Day, Photo: Lambda Legal / Twitter
Lambda Legal celebrates Spirit Day, Photo: Lambda Legal / Twitter

People around the country are donning purple today and tweeting their support for the LGBT community as part of Spirit Day. Held each year on the third Thursday in October, it serves as a symbol to LGBT youth that they have allies who support them.

Brittany McMillan, the founder of Spirit Day, told NBC in an interview that she came up with the idea after running across several Tumblr posts about a number of LGBT teen suicides. Using Canada’s Pink Shirt Day as inspiration, McMillan asked people concerned with LGBT bullying to wear purple, the color of “spirit” on the Gay Pride flag, to show their support for LGBT youth and against bullying.

McMillan’s online activism caught the attention of GLAAD, which began promoting Spirit Day as a way of calling attention to the problems facing LGBT youth. The visibility the event received due to GLAAD’s involvement grew exponentially, with various organizations or businesses — including many that are not LGBT-specific — participating by “going purple” each year. 

Several politicians and pundits expressed their support for LGBT youth via Twitter:

Major sports leagues, which have been vocal in standing up for the LGBT community in recent years, also expressed their support for Spirit Day.

Corporations also got involved, such as Kellogg’s, the parent company of Eggo, Pop Tarts and Special K, and Boeing.

Of course, LGBT organizations did their part to show they stand in solidarity with the community:

“We’re proud to go purple today as we join millions of LGBTQ advocates across the globe in calling for an end to bullying,” Rea Carey, executive director of the National LGBTQ Task Force said in a statement. “No one should ever fear for their safety and well being at school, in the workplace, or anywhere for that matter, simply because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer. Yet the reality is that 8 out of 10 LGBTQ students are bullied in school each year.

“Bullying has serious consequences that can lead to depression, violence, and suicide,” Carey added. “We urge everyone to join us in standing up against bullying and end all forms of hate and violence.”

Even RuPaul’s Drag Race tweeted its support.

McMillan, the founder of Spirit Day, says that seeing people wearing purple is important, as its a tangible show of support that can give them comfort that they are not alone.

“It’s the participants that make Spirit Day what is; they create their own events and their own art, all in the name of showing LBGTQ young people they care,” she told NBC. “I know how much it means to people around the world to know that they are supported by their communities.”

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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