Start Wearing Purple

In my first year at James Madison, a week after National Coming Out Day, Spirit Day was ablaze on campus. This spirit was not for the purple and gold before a football game, but instead to raise awareness about LGBT youth, and especially the suicide of Tyler Clementi. Many people brandished their usual JMU t-shirts and that day I started to wonder if the purple had anything to do with the day itself or instead simply that JMU students wear purple most days. I remember the article released in The Breeze about how many people were wearing purple.

No one asked me that day why I was wearing purple. No one mentioned it in my classes, nor did I say much to people on my floor. As a first year student I was barely out to many and I was no going to stand up in class and question why no one seemed to want to change their t-shirt color to that of one in support of the LGBT community.

GLAAD sponsors Spirit day in order to raise awareness of LGBT youth and the bullying they endure each and every day. They call it spirit, but I did not feel very strong in my convictions that day. I want each child to know both I and many of my friends are on their side. I want them to know that there is a life past the people who can’t find it in their heart to leave someone alone for who they love.

Because sometimes we have to make a pledge to make sure our voices are heard.
Because sometimes we have to make a pledge to make sure our voices are heard.

So how does this relate to feminism? Why do we need a day focused completely on raising awareness for a group of people that are too afraid to speak out against themselves? If a young boy in middle school is getting ridiculed because he kissed his best friend on the cheek at the 8th grade dance, do we really believe he will be strong enough to wear purple today? Do we hope so? Oh yes! Silence is the grandest of ways to be stepped on, overlooked. This is a feminist issue as much as an LGBT issue, and we cannot ignore that silence is the reason that this day must exist in the first place. It saddens me that I feel like I am copping out by putting on a purple t-shirt for one day, as if the other 364 days do not matter for someone too afraid to attend school.

I almost want to demand we wear purple everyday. Or better, we actually do something about this issue. Can you imagine hearing about the many suicide attempts that happen each day due to bullying? There were many times I myself feared going to school, just in case someone cornered me again, demanding that I explain why I chose to be gay.

I don’t know how I can change what is happening each and everyday to LGBT youth. But I don’t want their hardships to be ignored, and I truly feel for the pain they feel. Becoming silent is the worst possible way to deal with the pain they feel. Don’t just wear purple, but let everyone you see know why. Give them your two cents and make sure today is worth every individual who deserves to be treated as a human being.

One thought on “Start Wearing Purple

  1. Great post! I had also wondered how many people wore purple because it’s JMU or because they were doing it in support. Work against this issue shouldn’t be done one day a year so you can get your pant on the back, it should be a constant fight.


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