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. Spirit Day was started in 2010 by teenager Brittany McMillan as a response to the young people who had taken their own lives. Observed annually on October 20, individuals, schools, organizations, and corporations, media professionals and celebrities wear purple, which symbolizes spirit on the rainbow flag. Getting involved is easy — participants are asked to simply “go purple” on October 20 as we work to create a world in which LGBT teens are celebrated and accepted for who they are.
Far too many of us have been targeted or mistreated just for being who we are, especially during our youth. We know that one of the worst parts of that experience is feeling alone and isolated, as if no one understands or cares. The motivation for Spirit Day is to conquer this with a very simple gesture.
Let’s send a message to all the young people looking to find acceptance for themselves, their family and friends who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. From television studios to school assemblies to storefronts to sporting events: Wear purple on October 20!
The idea of wearing purple as a symbolic gesture came from Brittany McMillan who was moved by the tragic stories of teen suicides in the LGBT community in 2010. She wanted to highlight the color purple, which represents “spirit” in the rainbow pride flag, as a show of hope and resilience. The idea caught on like wildfire. From Hollywood to pep rallies, people were wearing purple in a vivid display of love and support.
We all have been profoundly impacted by these stories and want to send a powerful signal that we collectively value and celebrate the lives of all young people. In a sea of encouraging friends all wearing purple in a massive gesture of unity, it gets much harder to feel alone. Our hope is that this day of solidarity and strength in numbers will be a source of on-going inspiration for young people as they face the inevitable challenges of learning to love themselves for who they are, sometimes in the face of extreme adversity.
Please join me. Let’s do it again with even more creativity and visibility. It doesn’t take much and who doesn’t look good in purple? Help us make it clear that, regardless of the obstacles, young people should always feel surrounded by love and crowds of allies. Wear purple, let your support shine.