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Deep Purple: Show Support for Gay and Lesbian Youth

By Tony Peregrin in News on Oct 19, 2010 4:20PM

Spirit Day—not dissimilar to the idea of “Spirit Week” held in many high schools—now counts millions of Americans committed on Facebook to wearing the color purple tomorrow. The idea behind Spirit Day, first created by teenager Brittany McMillan earlier this month, is to honor the six gay boys who took their lives as a result of relentless harassment and bullying. But just as importantly, Spirit Day is also a way to show the hundreds of thousands of LGBT youth who face the same pressures and bullying that there is a vast community of people who support them. As one of the event's Facebook pages says: "This event is not a seminar nor is it a rally. There is NO meeting place. All you have to do is wear purple."

Purple symbolizes 'spirit' on the rainbow flag, a symbol for LGBT Pride that was created by Gilbert Baker in 1978.

In addition to wearing the color purple, GLAAD (The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) is also asking gays and lesbians and their allies to turn their Facebook and Twitter photos purple through Wednesday, and to share messages (status updates, tweets, etc.) of support for LGBT youth. For more information on the free application and suggested messages, go here.

Some critics of Spirit Day call wearing a purple shirt an empty gesture. “The confused array of different meanings attached to the gesture points to its inherent emptiness, observes one commentator. “On some of many Facebook event pages, it is in memory of the six killed. One explains that purple ‘represents spirit’ on the pride flag. On others, it is in support of the entire ‘LGBTQ community’ or “against homophobia.” People are uncertain what wearing purple should mean because on a fundamental level, it means (and does) nothing.”

Based on the heartfelt messages posted on the Spirit Day Facebook event page, the meaning behind Spirit Day—and donning the color purple—is anything but “uncertain” to the one million-plus confirmed participants.

“I will proudly wear purple on October 20th,” writes one participant. “Let's stop the senseless tragedies and understand we are all still a son, daughter, brother, sister, classmate, friend, co-worker…regardless of our gender, gender identity or sexuality. We are all still a human with a heart and soul. We are all deserving of love and compassion as well as acceptance and the opportunity to live an equal, meaningful, happy life. R.I.P to the 6 lost this month and to all of those who became weary before...God knows I myself have come close, but it does get better!”

Some Boystown bars are taking Spirit Day one step further: Scarlet and Minibar Ultra Lounge and Cafe will be participating in Painting the Town Purple, with portions of their proceeds tomorrow benefiting the Trevor Project, an organization committed to saving the lives of troubled gay and lesbian teens. Vivid Seats Ltd is also donating two general admission floor seats to the February 29th Lady Gaga/Scissor Sisters concert at the United Center, which will be raffled at the participating venues.

Wear purple, people—and say "no" to hate.