Spirit Day is an annual observance that takes place on the third Thursday in October on October 21 this year. This day aims to create awareness for the bullying and harassment that the L.G.B.T.Q community faces. Millions of people worldwide identify as queer, and many more are yet to publicly declare their status. Such a large community of people shouldn’t be alienated or marginalized because of their sexual orientation. But the reality, sadly, is that they are. All over the world, L.G.B.T.Q youths suffer harassment because of their identity.
History of Spirit Day
One day in September 2010, Canadian teenager Brittany McMillan was browsing through Tumblr. What she came across was unfortunate and devastating. She stumbled upon a rash of widely publicized bully-related suicides of gay teenagers. Overwhelmed by the news, she felt persuaded to do something to spread awareness about the loss of these school students. She also wanted to support people going through similar problems.
After learning about Canada’s anti-bullying Pink Shirt Day, she took inspiration from that and decided to make a Tumblr asking students to wear purple in support of L.G.B.T.Q youths. She chose purple because the color represents spirit on the Pride Flag.
Her hard work and determination resulted in the very first Spirit Day celebration on October 20, 2010. Her post broke the internet and drew the attention of GLAAD, an American non-governmental media monitoring organization founded as a protest against defamatory coverage of L.G.B.T.Q people. Now the day is organized and promoted by GLAAD, which also provides Spirit Day resource kits for ally-youths to stand up against bullying in their own schools.
Over the years it has grown in popularity and visibility. It now sees millions of participants, including schools, businesses, sports teams, celebrities, and media outlets. Spirit Day observers also wear the color purple to show their support for the L.G.B.T.Q youth and honor the community’s suicide victims. Supporters also celebrate by changing their profile pictures and extensively using the hashtags #SpiritDay and #ChooseKindness in their social media posts.
Spirit Day timeline
Congress passes the Employment Non-Discrimination Act that prohibits discrimination by sexual orientation in the workplace.
The U.S. military abolishes the 'Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell' policy, which restricted gay, lesbian, and bisexual people from openly serving in the army.
Influential personalities and organizations, such as the White House, Oprah Winfrey, Ashton Kutcher, MTV, and Facebook show their support for Spirit Day.
Laverne Cox, a transgender actress and activist, hosts an event in NYC, in which she turns on the lights strung on the Empire State Building in support of Spirit Day.
Spirit Day FAQs
What is a nonbinary person?
A non-binary person falls under the umbrella term for gender identities that are neither male nor female.
What does the 'Q' stand for in L.G.B.T.Q?
The ‘Q’ in L.G.B.T.Q stands for ‘Queer.’ It is used by some people as a specific identity and is even used as an umbrella term for a non-cisgender or heterosexual.
What does gender fluidity mean?
Gender fluidity means that a person’s gender expression or identity or both can change over time.
Spirit Day Activities
Attend a Spirit Day parade
Attend a local Spirit Day parade to show your support for the L.G.B.T.Q community. If there isn’t one happening in your neighborhood or locality, you could organize one and invite family and friends. Promote the parade on social media to spread the message to a wider audience
Lend support to someone you know
Now is a good time to be a safe space for a friend. Announce on social media your willingness and availability to listen and provide emotional support to whoever needs it.
Advocate for L.G.B.T.Q rights
L.G.B.T.Q people are almost always being violated. All they seek is mutual understanding, and not to be trolled or discriminated against. Advocate for their rights, speak up against their maltreatment, show people why it’s wrong. If you want a change, you need to be the change.
5 Important Facts About L.G.B.T.Q
One in five people of the L.G.B.T.Q community has experienced a hate crime because of their sexual orientation.
There are still around 69 countries that have criminalized same-sex relationships.
One in seven people of the L.G.B.T.Q community avoids seeking treatment, owing to the fear of discrimination.
Close to 80% of L.G.B.T.Q people across the world report social isolation.
Discrimination at work
Close to 35% of L.G.B.T.Q staff conceal their identity, for fear of discrimination or mistreatment.
Why We Love Spirit Day
Love is love
No one should dictate whom one should or shouldn't love. Love is a human emotion that proceeds from the heart, and there is no handbook on it. People who love others of the same gender do not deserve to be bullied because they don’t fit into a certain mold
L.G.B.T.Q people are human
People belonging to the L.G.B.T.Q community are human; they are people like us who wake up each day and go to work and try to live their lives with dignity. In an already hostile world, the least people can do is show compassion toward L.G.B.T.Q people and support them.
Equality for all
We all claim to live in a free and just world; unfortunately, that is not true for LGBTQ people. There are laws in so many countries that actually make it illegal to love someone of the same gender. There is an urgent need for equality for all so that everyone can live with respect and truly flourish.
Spirit Day dates