Purple.

I’m wearing purple today.
Just following 140-character orders.
“Turn your Twitter avatar purple to support the fight against gay and lesbian bullying!”
“Wear purple on October 20!”

I do as I’m told. Purple’s not the worst color on me, after all.

But a lot of people didn’t get the memo. Maybe they hadn’t heard about it; maybe it’s not their fashion statement of choice. I’m lucky to be connected almost constantly with a diverse group of people through Facebook and Twitter, so I take days like this for granted.

October 20, for the uninitiated, has been declared Spirit Day, named for the purple stripe on the LGBTQ flag, which represents spirit. (As for the other stripes, red represents light; orange, healing; yellow, the sun; green, calm; and blue is art.)
This day isn’t I can’t remember now which came first, Tyler Clementi jumping off the George Washington Bridge after his roommate at Rutgers outed him on the Internet just for fun, or a group of insanely young black men torturing another man, a member of their gang, in the Bronx after finding out he was gay.

It…numbs me.
I don’t handle bad news well. I watched a video a couple of months ago of a girl throwing a bucket full of tiny puppies, one by one, into a river. Laughing. And I was just…cold. For the rest of the afternoon.
A young girl killing helpless dogs that did nothing wrong but being born near where she lived. Ordinary people tormenting fellow human beings who happen to have a different sexual preference. Members of the Westboro Baptist Church picketing a funeral, rubbing salt in the wounds of people who are already mourning. When did we become such monsters? Or has there always been this part of our population that was just evil, and the pace of Internet news has just made it easier for word of them to spread?

It’s a bit heartening to hear that the Pentagon has ordered recruiters to start enlisting openly gay men and women into the military. It’s a small victory (hooray, now gay people can sign up to die just like straight people!) but one that took centuries to come to: Sodomy was grounds for military discharge as early as the Revolutionary War, and gay servicemen found engaged in sexual acts in the 1940s were given dishonorable discharge. Really. REALLY. Because having sex with men somehow makes you less qualified to kill or otherwise follow orders blindly.

I have never understood this.
I have never understood any of this.

Gays, lesbians, are no different from us. (“If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die?” Christians, Jews, gays, straights…we’re. all. HUMAN.) Same-sex relationships and sex may not be your choice. Hey! Turns out? It isn’t theirs either. It’s a biological preference they were born with. And they should be allowed to embrace it. With no fear of repercussions, emotional or physical. Screw the Bible. It was written hundreds and hundreds of years ago. And it’s a work of fiction. Screw your prejudices. They have no basis in reality.

Homosexuality is not a choice. Hate is.

It honestly hurts me sometimes to know I’m part of a group of people — white, American, straight, affluent — responsible for such a huge portion of the oppression in the world. I’m being dramatic, but really. I could have been anyone. It is by sheer happenstance that I was born into the life I have now, and I guess that makes me lucky. I guess.
What I guess also makes me lucky is that I grew up in a home where these things just weren’t discussed. I don’t remember going to church, and the times I do remember, there was no fire and brimstone. Just shiny offertory platters and the sound of a million-dollar organ filling the sanctuary.

I fell hard for one of my best friends in high school and asked him to be my date to the Sadie Hawkins dance. He turned me down and came out. I was one of the first people he told; it was his senior year of high school. He was surrounded by an accepting group of friends; his mother’s support for him never wavered. And 10 years later, he’s married. We aren’t in touch anymore, but I’m pretty sure he’s still the same guy he was, with his flannel-lined jeans; boisterous, nerdy laugh; and obsession with video games.

I was raised with the understanding that humans are humans. People are people.
And I feel sorry for those who weren’t.

If all this bullying and cruelty in the world makes me sad, numbs me, I can’t…even begin to imagine how isolated and hopeless the kids living it every day must feel.

And that’s why I’m wearing purple today.

As meaningless a gesture as it might seem from the outside — one person commented on my Facebook today that purple seemed a bit contrived, and asked why people weren’t just wearing rainbows today, because that’s “what LGBT people tend to identify with” — it’s an opportunity for all people, including those of us who were born without much of a reason to be oppressed at all, to show support for these teens (and anyone, really) living in this world that is far more cruel than it should be in 2010.

It’s not going to change the minds and hearts of people who hate gays for no reason. Haters gonna hate.

But if one person sees me today in my purple sweater and ridiculous purple stocking cap, sees me and understands that I’m one spirited grape of a girl, supportive and loving in a sea of blood-red rage — especially if I’m one of five, fifty or a hundred they see in their travels — then I’ll consider this day a success.
Even if I never find out who it was I helped.

Click here for videos from Dan Savage’s “It Gets Better” project.

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20 Responses to “Purple.”

  1. Brian Says:

    Me too, I look like Grimace, but I’m wearing purple. Great post. You’re one of the good ones Paige…

  2. Dylan Diomede Says:

    Paige,

    I understand that this is partly aimed at our discussion. I agree with everything you said. Even wearing purple, but lot’s of people wear purple. There is not much of a differentiation. If people really want to make an impact or a statement, wear the rainbow. Not many people wear rainbow because it associates with being gay, which sadly, has a negative connotation with the ignorant people on this pebble.

    I salute the people who put the rainbow decals on the back of their cars. Takes a lot of courage to advertise this and makes a statement. If one is going to stand up to bullies, then blending in is not going to make much of an impact.

    Stand up and stand out!

  3. Tweets that mention Purple. | paigeworthy.com -- Topsy.com Says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Paige Worthy, Vicki, Jill the Duchess, Brian Duttlinger, Miss Megs and others. Miss Megs said: RT @JessDowney: Awesome post my dear!! RT @paigeworthy: Wearing purple today and blogging about it. No hate. http://bit.ly/9qQc0Z […]

  4. Ricky Says:

    Paige,

    Thanks so much for writing this. You are a wonderful person and I am sure your friends and family love you lots!

    I hope you don’t mind, but I want to link this article to Twitter!

    Thanks again for being so wonderful!

    Ricky B

  5. Lauren Says:

    Thanks Paige. Preach it! (:

  6. Spirit Day. | Says:

    […] sister wrote a really lovely post about Spirit Day today, filled with beautiful narratives about how we grew up and the way we were […]

  7. Macy Koch Says:

    Wonderful post! It almost brought me to tears!

    Here’s to wearing purple, and hopefully encouraging change! 🙂

  8. Gabriel Says:

    Wish I had read this earlier today (was it up at 5:55am?) so I could have worn my one purple, checked button-down shirt to work today. Fortunately, I still have time to change into it before heading down to my Gilbert and Sullivan rehearsal, which some people have the temerity to call “gay.”

    And, Paige, I think society has always had its monsters, and not nearly enough of the fluffy Muppet kind, either. Thank you for doing your part to keep the monsters and the hatred in the closet, where they belong.

  9. Laura Scholz Says:

    Beautiful post, Paige. And you’re right–hate is a choice. Enough already.

  10. Alison Stich Says:

    This is so full of win. Seriously… this is everything I’ve wanted to say, but far more eloquently spoken.

  11. Sam Sarbinson Says:

    A timely post after some of the homeboys read your anti-mother rant and thought you were intolerant. Well done!

  12. Claire Bidwell Smith Says:

    Great post. Such an important issue. I also feel sn incredible amount of frustration about how close-minded people can be. Like you said, we’re all humans.

  13. Dave Says:

    This reminds me of the pink triangle project I did for grad school a year ago. I was assigned to wear a pink triangle button all day, and whenever someone asked me what it meant I had to explain it to them. Not too many people knew that gays were killed, or used as experiments during WWII’s holocaust, because it has been buried, restitution has been denied-not just in Germany, but in the U.S. Most sad of all, Jews often led the charge to deny restitution. As a straight man, it was quite an experience to wear the symbol of oppression, and to be identified with the oppressed (most people who looked at it gave me dirty looks, I assume some thought I was gay) and then to end up advocating for them by telling a piece of history that most people are not familiar with. Had I known about 10/20, I would have found something purple to wear (I don’t own anything, but I could have found something) because I completely agree that it takes those who have power and privilege to make things better for those who have none, which makes the world a better place for all of us. The trick is, in my opinion, to not become the oppressor once we are no longer being oppressed (just look at history, and you’ll find tons of examples of that very thing happening.)

  14. Ramble Redhead Says:

    Great post!

    I really love it – just wish a few billion other people would “get” it and I wish all the people who look down on doing something good will stop being bitter and be accepting.

    Too many of GLBT kids commit suicide and at least with my show and people like you we are making the world a better place.

    Hugs

    Tom aka Ramble Redhead

    P.S. Lauren shared this link to me and I am so glad she did! 🙂

  15. GLAAD Features Stories of Spirit Day Participants — Part 1 | GLAADBlog.org Says:

    […] UK, who is creating a collage of people in purple from the event. Paige Worthy from Chicago wrote a heartwarming entry about what the day means to her, saying “If all this bullying and cruelty in the world makes me […]

  16. GLAAD Features Stories of Spirit Day Participants — Part 1 | GayLGBT.com Says:

    […] UK, who is creating a collage of people in purple from the event. Paige Worthy from Chicago wrote a heartwarming entry about what the day means to her, saying “If all this bullying and cruelty in the world makes me […]

  17. Spirit Day and Wearing Purple: Did You Get the Memo? | Spin Sucks Says:

    […] I wore purple that day. I even blogged about it. […]

  18. Spirit Day. | hollyworthy.com Says:

    […] sister wrote a really lovely post about Spirit Day today, filled with beautiful narratives about how we grew up and the way we were […]

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