It’s a painful experience that informs my work to this very day. And it’s an experience that, even all these years later, is far too common among LGBTQ youth.
The power of support cannot be underestimated. Students who attend schools with a Gay-Straight Alliance student-run club, for example, are less likely to feel unsafe or victimized because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Just knowing there’s someone in your corner can mean the world – and sometimes, it can even be lifesaving.
That’s why, in 2010, GLAAD launched its annual Spirit Day campaign – a national day of action that shows LGBTQ youth support is all around them. Now in its seventh year, Spirit Day has become the world’s largest and most-visible anti-bullying campaign that supports LGBTQ young people.
Each year on Spirit Day, GLAAD leverages traditional and social media to empower millions to wear purple or go purple online in a united stand against bullying.
GLAAD enlists the support of celebrities, media outlets, corporations, national landmarks, government officials, religious institutions, schools, and everyday individuals to send a visible message of support to LGBTQ youth. With one simple action, anyone can take a stand and make an impact.
The campaign, which receives over 1.5 billion media impressions annually, brings anti-bullying resources to classrooms around the globe (GLAAD’s Spirit Day Kit is available in six different languages) and has inspired educators and administrators to take action on their own campuses through anti-bullying events and rallies.
Huge brands including Target and Wells Fargo bring Spirit Day to their customers and employees through customized activations and media companies such as NBCUniversal and Viacom mark Spirit Day on their airwaves, changing on-air logos purple for the day and enlisting the support of talent, who wear purple during the day’s broadcasts.
Add the online participation of some of the world’s biggest celebrities, such as Oprah, Ellen DeGeneres, Britney Spears, Ricky Martin, and even President Barack Obama, hashtag #SpiritDay has become a trending topic on Facebook and Twitter every year since the campaign’s inception.
Support that was once left unspoken is given a voice on Spirit Day. Just imagine being an LGBTQ young person, uncertain if those around you will accept you for who you are, and then seeing a sea of purple online and in the hallways on Spirit Day. That kind of show of support doesn’t just make a bit of difference – it makes all the difference.
Seth Adam is VP of communications at LGBT media-monitoring group GLAAD.