Spirit Day, Oct. 20, 2010, is a day for individuals to show solidarity with those who have been hurt by bullying for their sexual orientation. All individuals regardless of sexual orientation are welcome and encouraged to join in. Teen Brittany McMillan first came up with the idea in her blog.
With all of the recent news about teen suicides due to bullying, the idea took on a life of its own and is now being celebrated by celebrities and many people around the country. People are showing their support by wearing and displaying the color purple.
The campaign I found most moving involved Johnny Weir, an Olympic figure skater. He debuted a purple tie-dyed shirt with the words “An Army of One” across the front. This shirt is being sold to benefit the Trevor Project, which is aimed at preventing suicides in homosexual men, women and teens. This is a problem close to Weir’s heart.
Weir has, in the past and still currently is, been bullied for his sexual orientation. His statement to other homosexual men, women and teens is “Live the way you want to live” and “Suicide is an easy way out of a problem”. I was most moved by this campaign because it went right to the heart of the importance of Spirit Day because it is raising money for a specific charity that was set up in rememberance of Trevor, who committed suicide because of anti-gay bullying.
Suicide generally seems to be an agonizing choice between two very horrible options to the individual. They can’t tolerate the bullying and they see no way out. This was the case with Tyler Clementi, a freshman at Rutgers who was tormented by his college roommate, and Zach Harrington, who was openly criticized at a city council meeting for proposing to have an observance of gay history month in October. By drawing attention to the Trevor Project, Weir’s campaign to raise money for the charity was a moving expression of how an individual can inspire other people even after they are no longer with us.
This day became a nationwide phenomenon because of the people who were victims of bullying. It is important to make sure that everyone knows their names and stories. The bullying won’t go away without everyone working hard to counteract the negativity. Something has to be done about bullying in schools and bullying on the Internet. If even one person pauses to consider other options or reaches out to a suicide hotline, trusted friend, mentor or family member because of Spirit Day, then Spirit Day was successful.
There are so many resources and so many people who would be happy to help and be non-judgmental. If you or someone you know are being bullied for sexual orientation, please tell someone and reach out.
Rosemary Black “Spirit Day: Celebs Wear Purple to Support Teens Struggling with Anti-Gay Bullying”, New York Daily News.
“On Spirit Day, Johnny Weir Announces ‘Army of One’ Shirt for Trevor Project”, On Top Magazine.
DValentine “Facebook Blushing Purple for Spirit Day”, SoVo.