Spirit Day 2021 is upon us. For the last 11 years, the folks behind the day of recognition for LGBTQ youth, which falls on the third Thursday of every October, have propelled the observance from an online social campaign to a full-fledged day promoted by GLAAD, where millions go purple to show their alliance with the community.
iHeartRadio is celebrating the observance with a look back at the 11-year tradition, which has seen the world come together, rock some purple, show solidarity for LGBTQ youth and take a stance against bullying during National Bullying Prevention Month. To commemorate the big day, we are taking a look back at its history and reminding you of how one Canadian teen jumpstarted the entire movement to what it is today.
1. It was started in 2010 by a Canadian teenager.
When she was just 15-years-old, Brittany McMillan started the Facebook event page in response to the wave of bullying-related suicides of gay students, including Tyler Clementi. "Ultimately, I want Spirit Day to make just one person feel a little bit better about his or herself, to feel safe enough in their own skin to be proud of who they are," McMillian told GLAAD in 2011, adding that she took inspiration from Canada's Pink Shirt Day for conceptualizing the occasion's signature purple color.
2. Spirit Day is a star-studded occasion.
Star power is not something Spirit Day is not lacking. Among the celebrities who have backed the occasion include Britney Spears, Cher, The Chicks, Halle Berry, Vanessa Carlton, Kristin Chenoweth, Amy Allen, Elizabeth Berkley, Connie Britton, Megan Boone, Sterling K. Brown, Jiggly Caliente, Jackie Cox, Miz Cracker, Kat Cunning, Ted Danson, Daughtry and more.
3. Variations of Spirit Days exists outside of the United States.
Dutch organization, COC Nederland, also adopted a similar tradition in December 2010 when the second Friday of December was deemed Paarse Vrijdag, otherwise known as Purple Friday. Meanwhile, Wear it Purple Day, is a similar day that takes place in Australia.
4. It's based on some cold, hard facts.
The Trevor Project conducted a survey this year that showed a whopping 52 percent of LGBTQ youth who were enrolled in middle or high school reported being bullied either in person or electronically in the past year. Thankfully, the survey also revealed that over 80 percent of youth are impacted by celebrity allies who positive share what it means to be connected to the LGBTQ community.
5. Spirit Day has even reached the Empire State Building.
Back in 2014, Laverne Cox hosted an event, where she was joined by transgender youth and turned on the lights to the Empire State Building, illuminating the monument for the city-goers. "All of our children need to feel safe to be themselves at home, school and in our communities," she said during her appearance.
6. Betty White even went by a different name for the observance in 2013.
White adopted the nickname Betty Purple in honor of the annual occasion in 2013, alongside her Hot in Cleveland co-stars.