GLAAD Features Stories of Spirit Day Participants -- Part 2

GLAAD is continuing to highlight the ways individuals around the world celebrated Spirit Day on October 20th, and we are especially impressed by the way some people went beyond social networks and media to send an even greater message.

In addition to wearing purple clothes and accessories, creating purple profile pictures, and spreading the word on Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr, Spirit Day supporters participated in events in their schools and communities. Kristin Land in California marched in an anti-bullying candlelight vigil a couple of days earlier, with her parents and son, who was the youngest supporter there. “He has been a victim of hate and bullying, and has himself considered suicide. It’s a day to day victory,” she says. Jake Green in Orlando organized a candlelight vigil on Spirit Day that attracted hundreds of people and garnered news coverage. A video of the vigil appears below.

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Some people used very creative ideas, such as making bracelets, buttons, ribbons, and stickers, to celebrate Spirit Day. A student in Tennessee walked around her college campus in purple, and by the end of the day had talked to about 15 other people who approached her out of curiosity about her outfit. She also kept her congregation informed about bullying and suicides in the news. “I made sure they knew that I was very active with preventing suicide in the LGBT community, even though I'm not out to them yet. I did all of this and no one knows except for a small few that I'm a lesbian. I'm not gonna lie, it was terrifying, but I felt I needed to be brave for these kids.” She says in her experience, a lot of people in her church are uninformed about the suicides, and were shocked when they heard. “They don't necessarily hate or believe that people in the LGBT community are going to hell, but they just aren't aware of the impact they make in the LGBT community.”

The impact of educators was especially powerful as well. A teacher named Viviana Rovira took the opportunity to talk to her students about treating others like equals. “I drew a purple ribbon on the top right corner of my whiteboard … I gave a short speech about the ribbon and the importance of working in our everyday lives against anti-LGBT bullying (and any other kind of bullying and violence) everywhere we are.” As Amber from Minnesota put it, “We can have the attention of the whole world and all the campaigns going on that we want, but it really comes down to the individual schools stepping up and making a change.”

Others missed the memo the first time around, but were still affected by Spirit Day. A reader from San Francisco noticed a man at a baseball game in a bright orange Giants shirt over a purple long sleeved shirt. “At first it looked completely weird and almost as if he were colorblind to wear orange and purple. But then it dawned on me! He was wearing purple in honor of Spirit day but was still able to maintain his pride in his baseball team … I took a picture of him because it was an amazing gesture to me.”

Bobby from Connecticut had an even more unique experience. “Actually, I didn't wear purple. I just found out about it. Instead I went to a zombie pub crawl ... Unfortunately, I realize now that I saw some friends wearing purple, and I made fun of them! I asked why they came dressed like a bunch of grapes to the zombie costume party … I missed the point! So, to make up for my missing it, and for bullying friends who were speaking out against bullying, however inadvertently, I'll wear purple for the rest of the week.” Many people have also chosen to keep their pictures purple for the rest of the year, in honor of other lives that have been lost.

We’ve gotten submissions from dozens of people about what they did to speak out, but we know there are more! Did you wear purple? Did you inform others about the day’s significance? Share your story with us and add your photos to our Flickr slideshow!

GLAAD applauds everyone who participated in this important day, and we thank you for sharing your stories with us.

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