One girl whose heart was crushed by the deaths of gay young people who had taken their own lives, who decided that she'd had enough.
Enough of the bullying, enough of the hate—enough of the intolerance. In 2010, Brittany McMillan stepped up on behalf of those who had died too young. With the deep hues of purple, McMillan decided to honor their short, rich lives during the first ever LGBT Spirit Day.
Observed annually on October 20, individuals, schools, organizations, corporations, media professionals and celebrities wear purple, which symbolizes spirit on the rainbow flag, according to the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) website Glaad.org. Millions of Americans wear purple on Spirit Day as a sign of support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth and to speak out against bullying.
I call myself lucky to have a diverse group of friends—including gay people. Some have never discussed if they've encountered bullying, discrimination or just plain intolerance; some have silently endured it all. I don't push, but if they're comfortable sharing, I'm willing to listen. Some are activists and refuse to suck it up or shut up; some just want to lead quiet, uninterrupted, respected lives—to which they're entitled.
Today, I wear purple for each of them. Like McMillan, I wear my purple sweater in honor of those young people who could not withstand the overwhelming negativity swirling around them. The loud color will blare worldwide as a reminder that these youth should not be silenced. Even Facebook will participate. Take a minute and "Purple Up" your Facebook profile. GLAAD has created a Spirit Day site that offers social media users ways to "go purple"—including Facebook profile photos, Twitter avatars, Google+ photos and more. Users that sync their social media accounts will be able to instantly add a purple hue to their profile pictures.
There are so many ways to show your support and your openmindedness. Put on your purple and show me! Add your photos to this column, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or post your photos to our Facebook page.
Will you join us and help paint your world purple?