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SAN DIEGO -- Those who are connected to people who support LGBT equality on Social Media sites such as Facebook likely saw an online sea of purple when logging on this morning. In support LGBT youth and anti-bullying efforts, thousands of people will join in the Spirit Day movement, which encourages people to “go purple.”
First started by Canadian teenager Brittany McMillan in 2010, the campaign has since taken off, now being coordinated GLAAD, with support from The Trevor Project and GLSEN, and corporations like American Apparel and Toyota.
When McMillan came up with the idea two years ago, her hope was to respond to the rash of high-profile LGBT youth suicides that were being reported by the media at the time. She selected Oct. 20 as the date and posted her idea to wear purple in support of LGBT youth as an event on Facebook, with thousands of people taking hold of the idea.
Spirit Day has become a phenomenon since then, and many organizations, companies, and individuals have come up with their own creative ways to show their support.
Gilbert Baker, who created the first rainbow flag in 1978, gave descriptions of each of the colors of the flag, said the Direct Action Network in an e-mail blast about Spirit Day. The flag quickly became internationally recognized as a symbol of the LGBT community, and organizers of Spirit Day wanted to use a color from the flag to represent the day.
Baker defined the purple color as symbolic of "spirit" so in support of LGBT victims of bullying, Spirit Day was born.
As the popular Social Media site Facebook has become an organizing platform for activists, the website seems to have become one of the primary ways that people are showing their support of this day.
In fact, GLAAD has a webpage devoted to Spirit Day, which includes an application that will assist users in “purpleizing” their Facebook profile photos. Users simply upload their photo and the application will put a purple tint over it.
There is also an iPhone and Android app available that will allow users to “purplelize” photos on their smart phones.
Numerous community organizations have “gone purple” on their Facebook pages today, by colorizing their logo image, cover photo, and posting messages of support. Some of the local groups that are participating include San Diego Pride, the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus, San Diego Remembers, and the Hillcrest Youth Center.
Other Social Media
Although people can participate in Spirit Day in a number of ways, including wearing purple clothing or ribbons, it started as a Social Media campaign and continues to have its greatest presence online.
In fact, GLAAD refers to the day in the form of the Twitter “hashtag” #SpiritDay. Those who use the hashtag in their online discussions about Spirit Day will be able to participate in a greater dialogue with those who are also expressing thoughts about the topic.
Participants are also encouraged to upload their Spirit Day photos to Instagram, also using the #SpiritDay hashtag.
Finally, the #SpiritDay hashtag is available online Flicker, Pinterest, and Tumblr, and photos can also be shared directly with GLAAD.
The Spirit Day website also includes a number of graphics that participants can put on their own pages to express their support.
Donate to support LGBT youth
While changing Social Media profiles and wearing purple can go along way to raise awareness and increase the dialogue about the importance of supporting LGBT youth, GLAAD hopes that people will consider making a donation to support the cause that Spirit Day was created for.
The organization has made it easy for people to make a donation to support LGBT youth by sending a text message. Those who text PURPLE to 80888 will be able to make a $5 donation that will benefit the life-saving programs of GLAAD, The Trevor Project, and GLSEN.
All three organizations have programs that support LGBT youth, including the Trevor Project’s crisis line.
LGBT media get involved
A number of LGBT media outlets have gotten involved, be it by informing their readers about the day, or changing their Social Media pages and websites in support of Spirit Day.
The Advocate has “purpleized” its Facebook page and is running a story profiling McMillan, the founder of Spirit Day.
SDGLN media partner LGBTQ Nation has also “gone purple” and has posted a number of stories and thoughts about the day, including “A Letter to my Bully” by Kergan Edwards-Stout.
SDGLN’s own website skin has been “purpleized” so all visitors to the site today will see a purple background.
More information about Spirit Day is HERE.