GLAAD Features Stories of Spirit Day Participants -- Part 1

GLAAD is collecting the pictures, stories, and experiences of people around the world detailing how they celebrated Spirit Day on October 20th. We are truly touched by the responses we have received so far. Many of our readers wrote special blog entries devoted to the day, including Elijah Bringas in the Phillipines and Megan in the UK, who is creating a collage of people in purple from the event. Paige Worthy from Chicago wrote a heartwarming entry about what the day means to her, saying “If all this bullying and cruelty in the world makes me sad, numbs me, I can’t…even begin to imagine how isolated and hopeless the kids living it every day must feel.” Lynn in Illinois used her Johnny Weir fan blog to promote his T-shirts that raise money for the Trevor Project, and to feature his inspiring Spirit Day announcement, based on his recent 1,000th tweet. She also highlighted an empowering quote of his from a recent interview: “Suicide is never the answer. If you want to send a message, live. And live the way that you want to live. And let that be your statement to the world. You have to be strong. ... I’m the same as you. Let me live. Let me be special. Let me be unique. And I’ll let you.” Carl Shepherd from Illinois used his Photo Effects software to help turn over 230 Facebook pictures purple, and created two online photo albums to feature them. “I wanted to remember everybody who was kind enough to participate,” he said. He continued, “It’s not enough to simply tell students that bullying is wrong. We must reach their parents, the people who influence them the most, with this message. … I believe the beginning of the end starts at home.” Adults and youth alike used the day to state their support of LGBT people. Christopher Clevenger from Ohio shared with others an email he received from his mother, to show that “It Gets Better.” It reads: "When we first found out that you are gay we had so many questions and so many uncertainties. Along the way you have helped us to understand things better than we thought possible, and little by little we're growing … I wore my purple ribbon today and I want you to know, for all the strength you have shown and for the person you have become words cannot express how very proud I am of you.” Lexi from Florida wore purple when taking her kids to school, even though she couldn’t wear it at work. “I make sure to let me kids know that picking on other kids is wrong, and will not be tolerated,” she writes. Scott de Buitléir spoke about Spirit Day on his radio show for the LGBT community in Ireland. “I got messages from my listeners in Ireland, Britain, and the U.S. about what they wore for Spirit Day, and they all seemed delighted to be involved!” Even people in anti-LGBT environments did what they could to participate. Stephanie in Washington was motivated to speak out against a man at her job harassing her for being a lesbian. “On Spirit Day and with the support of friends behind me I … did call him out by name and then proceeded to tell all those who were listening what has been going on recently with all the suicides … I can go to work without fear again.” The incident was dealt with, and began a new dialogue in her workplace. Hannah in Texas, who is surrounded by close family and friends who are anti-LGBT, took small steps to support equality. “In my heart, I knew what was needed and right, and that everyone … deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.” She wore purple scrubs to her job at the hospital that day. And it’s true that the smallest actions can make a difference. Jason from Illinois reminisced about the difficulties of being young and gay, but said, “I know it will get better if we keep pushing forward. … I remember when I was in school I always felt hopeful if I happened to go by a car with a rainbow sticker or the blue and yellow HRC equal sign.” His advice for LGBT youth is to stay strong and use their voice. “Your voice can inspire those around you who may never show it, and your presence can change the minds of those who hate and discriminate, simply by living your life.” GLAAD thanks everyone who sent us these inspiring stories, and will continue to amplify the voices of the LGBT community.