Purple people unite

Amy Hinson & Shel Parker of Kansas City wear purple for #SPIRITDAY. Photo provided.

By Bruce Hartley
Life Issues Columnist

National Spirit Day is set for Thursday, October 19. Spirit Day was created by GLAAD to show support for LGBT+ youth and take a stand against bullying.

This is a relatively young recognition day since it just began in 2010. It’s ironic to label this as “young” since the meaning behind the day is to show support for LGBT+ youth and to speak out against bullying.

As a baby boomer; I know my generation has felt the sting of bullying through the years.

For Spirit Day, I suggest you first take a few minutes to think about your own life. I know that I am not alone as I have dealt with bullying since I was in elementary school. I was bullied for wanting to play house with the girls and not wanting to play sports with the boys. It didn’t make sense to me at the time, but I know it hurt my feelings. Why did I want to swing, teeter-totter, play tether ball and foursquare? Why didn’t I want to play dodge ball?

Many of us shut down in junior high and high school out of fear of bullies. Some of us have even been bullied as an adult worrying about work place, housing, healthcare and even church bullying or discrimination. Now we have many communication channels thanks to social media. With that, cyber bullying has become commonplace in the world.

Further, since the Supreme Court voted to allow marriage equality along with last year’s presidential campaign and election, we are all facing even higher levels of bullying.

I often say that I wonder what my life would be like if I was a youth in 2017. My dreams make me think I would be openly gay in high school and would walk the halls holding my boyfriend’s hand without being shamed. I dream about taking walks around my neighborhood or the shopping mall and not fearing being targeted for violence. I dream of not having to sneak around from parents who wouldn’t understand that I don’t want a girlfriend.

My dreams also include getting married and starting a family in my 20’s and not worrying about my husband or being told a caterer, florist, church, photographer or other vendor would refuse service because we are gay.

As a university professor, I know my dreams really don’t reflect the reality of 2017. LGBT+ youth are still facing some of the same bullying that I felt during elementary, junior high and high school. They are living through a changing culture of marriage equality acceptance with continued resistance from some people, facing confusion from people who do not understand youth in 2017 having gender labels other than strictly male and female.

They are also trying to navigate through a world that doesn’t always understand that love is love and happens in different combinations of people with different genders. I think this is fascinating, but it has also created a new age of bullying.

I hope you all will go to the GLAAD website (www.glaad.org) to take the online pledge of support for LGBT+ youth. Wear purple on Spirit Day – it’s the color symbolizing spirit on the rainbow flag.

I would love to see your “purple clothing photos” posted on social media with the hashtag #GaylySpiritDay2017. I promise I will post a photo wearing a purple shirt that day.

Also, National Coming Out Day was October 11. I hope all baby boomers who have felt bullied through the years will consider coming out this month. This will be another way we can show our support for LGBT+ youth. I would love to see photos of baby boomers who come out in October (or who are already out). Please post your photos on social media with the hashtag #GaylyBoomerOut.

Copyright The Gayly – October 19, 2017 @ 9:30 a.m. CDT.