On Friday, Nov. 11, which marks National Coming Out Day, and in advance of Spirit Day on Thursday, Nov. 17, GLAAD released videos of LGBTQ celebrities and allies sending messages of support to LGBTQ youth.
The celebrities featured in the videos include: Angelica Ross, Jameela Jamil, Adam Rippon, Karamo Brown, Paula Abdul, Patricia Arquette, Dan Levy, Jaboukie Young-White, Peppermint, and Nina West. All of the participants offer their thoughts on bullying and the importance of tolerance, while also sending a message of acceptance to LGBTQ youth who may be struggling in school.
Each year on Spirit Day, millions of people in schools and workplaces around the world will wear purple or change their profile pictures or social media backgrounds to purple — the color within the rainbow Pride flag that signifies “spirit”– to show support for LGBTQ youth and take a stand against bullying. Corporations, media outlets, sports leagues, and other entities that support LGBTQ rights will also take part.
Started in 2010, Spirit Day came about after Brittany McMillan, then a high school sutdent, created a Tumblr post asking students to wear purple following the suicides of several LGBTQ and LGBTQ-perceived young people. The event coincides with National Bullying Prevention Month, with the donning of purple shirts by supportive allies serving as a demonstration of support for LGBTQ youth who may feel alienated due their sexual orientation or gender identity.
In 2018 alone, Spirit Day, and its corresponding hashtag #SpiritDay, sparked over 150 unique press stories, more than 100,000 unique mentions on social media, and earned over 1.6 billion social media impressions.
In one of the videos, Angelica Ross, an actress best known for her role in the FX series Pose, called on those who consider themselves allies to take more concrete actions in support of the LGBTQ community, particularly trans community members under attack.
“We all need to take a stand against all forms of bullying,” Ross says. “But we have to go beyond just turning our profile pictures purple. Because I see a lot of folks out there giving us lip service, and you think you’re doing everything by turning your profile picture purple, but then when we need you the most, when Trump is attacking trans Americans, you’re silent. Love is an action, and trans people need to see that love out in the open.”
“Bullies are acting out of fear and insecurity, and that’s an important thing to know if you are bullied, because it’s not about you, it is only about them,” says Schitt’s Creek star Dan Levy in another video. “Keep shining, keep staying strong, and celebrate your life, because if someone is coming after you, it means you have something they don’t. You are special, you are loved. Keep going.”
The popular drag queen Peppermint tells youth in her video: “I want you to look inside yourself and just connect with that feeling, that individuality, that uniqueness, because it’s what’s going to make you a star.”
According to GLSEN’s most recent National School Climate Survey, 70% of LGBTQ students report being verbally harassed in school. Almost 60% of LGBTQ students say they feel unsafe because of their sexual orientation and nearly 45% feel unsafe because of their gender identity.
Additionally, more than 87% of LGBTQ students say they’ve experienced harassment or physical or sexual assault due to their personal characteristics, including sexual orientation, gender expression, gender, religion, actual or perceived race and ethnicity, and actual or perceived disability.
“From the world’s biggest stars and athletes to local classrooms and pastors, Spirit Day has become a megaphone for allies to send a unified message of acceptance and support to LGBTQ youth each year,” Sarah Kate Ellis, the president and CEO of GLAAD, said in a statement. “In today’s divisive culture and political climate, LGBTQ people and allies need to be louder than ever to outshine bullies and tell young people that they will always be supported just as they are.”