This article was published on October 10th, 2017
For the past seven years, the third Thursday of October has been a day the LGBT community has celebrated as Spirit Day. This annual day of recognition honoring LGBT youth with support and visibility has become permanently etched into the gay calendar. On Thursday October 17, take a moment to honor and support LGBT young people everywhere by celebrating Spirit Day 2017.
Many remember the events in 2010, like it was yesterday, which lead up to the autumn Spirit Day to be created. They were dark days to be a gay person in America. Before the United States had marriage equality and back in the days before LGBT could even serve in the US military, there was a particularly dark September and October that shook queer people to the core. In that year, many teenagers across the United States were bullied, which led these individuals to commit suicide, resulting in their horrific, high-profile deaths being profiled in news headlines.
Canadian teenager, Brittany McMillan, started Spirit Day to remember the LGBT lives lost due to teen suicide and to put a spotlight on and to combat bullying of queer people. Her idea stuck, and seven years later, Spirit Day 2017 is celebrated every year in the United States, Canada, and other jurisdictions around the world.
Purple has been chosen color representing spirit day from its connection to the color of spirit on the rainbow flag: purple. McMillan said she also drew inspiration for the color from Canada’s Pink Shirt Day, a day to wear pink to stand up against bullying.
Looking back at 2010, the United States and the world were shocked at the rash of suicides amongst LGBT teenagers that had suffered at the hands of bullies for so long. These youth thought ending their lives was their only option. In response to these untimely deaths of the gay suicide epidemic, the It Gets Better project and Spirit Day were born. Brittany McMillan was a high school student working with GLAAD at the time, and she, along with the help of the organization, initiated and celebrated what would end up being a day of visibility for the gay community.
Today, it is a day of remembrance. Ever since 2013, Spirit Day is held the third Thursday of October. Members of the LGBT community and supporters wear purple and turn their profile pictures as a nod of support for those in the community now and for those that came before us. On Spirit Day 2017, take time to cheers to being gay and alive. Queer people are able to live better happier lives in Canada and the United States as a result of those that paved the way. That is something to celebrate.