Facebook Goes Purple for Spirit Day

Millions wear purple online for Spirit Day to combat anti-LGBT cyberbullying.

October 20, 2010, 2:07 PM

Oct. 20, 2010— -- Purple is the color of choice on Facebook today, as millions of users show their support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender teens.

Answering the call from the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) to "wear purple on Oct. 20 for Spirit Day," Facebook fans around the world changed their status messages, created purple versions of their profile pictures, joined Facebook groups and more.

"By wearing purple online and offline today, millions of Americans are sending an important message to let gay and lesbian youth know that they are supported for being exactly who they are," GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios said.

Oct. 20 was designated Spirit Day by Canadian teenager Brittany McMillan to honor the teenagers who recently committed suicide after anti-LGBT bullying online, according to GLAAD.

"Spirit Day honors the teenagers who had taken their own lives in recent weeks," the media monitoring group said, adding that purple symbolizes "spirit" on the rainbow flag, a symbol for LGBT pride. "But, just as importantly, it's also a way to show the hundreds of thousands of LGBT youth who face the same pressures and bullying, that there is a vast community of people who support them."

Rallying around the cause, several Facebook groups encouraging people to wear purple have popped on the site. One of the biggest, "R.I.P. ;; In memory of the recent suicides due to gay abuse, wear purple," has attracted more than 1.6 million attendees.

In newsfeeds across the site, Facebook fans from California to Canada and Vienna to Venezuela posted messages of support.

"Today is Spirit Day! We may cry over loss but let's celebrate the lives still lived. They'll live on in SPIRIT & through SPEAKING OUT!" one Facebook user wrote.

"Purple blouse and purple leopard scarf in NY," another wrote. "Sending out love to everyone."

On Twitter, the hashtag #SpiritDay is a trending topic and GLAAD said its tweet about the campaign is listed as a Top Tweet.

The campaign even caught the attention of stars, such as Khloe Kardashian, Cyndi Lauper, Alyssa Milano, Ricky Martin and Ryan Seacrest, who joined the effort on Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook Launches 'Network of Support'

Facebook also took an official stance on the issue, working with GLAAD and other partners to launch a Network of Support. The educational initiative is intended to "provide better resources for LGBT teens and everyone who wants to keep the Internet a safe place," the company said on its safety page.

"We believe that educating people about the lasting and damaging impact of hateful remarks is a shared responsibility," Facebook said. "In light of recent tragedies involving youth who have taken their own lives as a result of anti-LGBT bullying, we felt it necessary to form a Network of Support to help us effectively address issues faced by the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community."

Facebook also posted six tips, encouraging users to remember to "block bullies," "report harassment," "stick up for others," "think twice before posting," "get help if you feel overwhelmed" and "know you're never alone."

GLAAD included on its website a list of virtual ways supporters could wear purple online, including tweeting Spirit Day pictures and changing their Twitter profile pictures.

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