Spirit Day founder Brittany McMillan reflects on her top 5 #SpiritDay moments

By GLAAD |
October 21, 2021

Spirit Day began in 2010 when then high school student Brittany McMillan created a Tumblr post asking students to wear purple following the suicide deaths of several LGBTQ and LGBTQ-perceived young people. In collaboration with GLAAD, McMillian hosted the first ever Spirit Day on October 20, 2010, asking people around the world to take a public stand against bullying and show support for LGBTQ youth. Since then, Spirit Day has become the most visible annual LGBTQ anti-bullying campaign in the world, garnering support from celebrities, landmarks, media, sports teams, brands, and so many others.

This year, GLAAD asked Brittany McMillan reflect on her top 5 #SpiritDay moments since the campaign began. Here’s what she had to say:

1. Seeing 28,000 likes/reblogs on the first #SpiritDay Tumblr post in 2010.

2. Receiving the celebrity tweet from Paula Abdul. I didn’t have Twitter at the time, but lots of my friends saw it and sent it over to me. It was the first sign for me that things were getting big!

3. Visiting Times Square and GLAAD in New York in 2012 and seeing all the billboards lit up in purple. It was so cool to see the huge screens turning purple and promoting #SpiritDay. It was also really cool to meet the people at GLAAD who I had worked with online over the past couple of years.

4. All the years the White House turned their icon purple and President Obama wore a purple tie. I’m not an American but to know my creation reached the President of the United States was so cool. Also, I really admire the Obamas and all that they do, so it made me really excited to see them supporting something that I started.

5. The release of the #SpiritDay board book last year, by Little Bee Books and illustrated by Joy Yang. As soon as I found out about it, I purchased a copy. I love books and reading and to know that there is a book out there about #SpiritDay blows my mind each and every day. 

About Spirit Day:

Each year, millions go purple for GLAAD’s Spirit Day to support LGBTQ youth in a united stand against bullying. Started in 2010 by high school student Brittany McMillan in response to numerous young LGBTQ lives lost to suicide, Spirit Day now draws the participation of celebrities, schools, faith institutions, national landmarks, corporations, media outlets, sports leagues, and advocates around the world, all joining together to stand against bullying and support LGBTQ youth.

Presenting sponsors Target, Visible, and Wells Fargo, official sponsors NYC Department of Youth and Community Development, Porsche Cars North America Inc., Sally Hansen, and Mars Wrigley’s SKITTLES, and community sponsors Amazon, Kellogg Company, Kirkland & Ellis, National Basketball Association & Women’s National Basketball Association, NFL, Nike, and Shutterfly will all participate in Spirit Day.

In 2021, Spirit Day takes on a renewed importance due to the unprecedented challenges facing LGBTQ youth. Over the last year and a half, many LGBTQ youth have not been in school, unable to attend in-person meetings of Gay-Straight Alliances, Gender-Sexuality Alliances or on-campus colleges LGBTQ organizations. During this time, LGBTQ youth have also become increasingly vulnerable to the impacts of cyberbullying, specifically with heightened levels of anti-LGBTQ hate and harassment on social media. Some LGBTQ youth may be confined to a home environment that may be unsupportive or abusive. As well, an unprecedented number of anti-LGBTQ bills in state legislatures specifically targeting trans and nonbinary youth have been in the news. Calls to The Trevor Project’s hotline for LGBTQ youth have at times more than doubled since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

This year, Spirit Day is on October 21, 2021. Take the Spirit Day pledge to show LGBTQ youth you've got their backs at glaad.org/spiritday. Follow @GLAAD on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok to keep up to date with #SpiritDay news.