Throughout the year, the LGBTQ and Allied community bands together and shows support for different LGBTQ-related causes. Today is Spirit Day, which raises awareness of anti-LGBTQ bullying. Last week was National Coming Out Day, which celebrates all of the LGBTQ people who have made the decision to live their life openly. Transgender Remembrance Day on November 20 honors the members of the Trans* community that were murdered for expressing who they were. The Day of Silence, which falls in mid-April, represents the silenced voices of LGBTQ people who committed suicide, and the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT) on May 17 raises awareness for LGBTQ rights violations around the world.
In the time of RuPaul, Michael Sam, and “Modern Family”, it is extremely easy to think that days like these are no longer necessary. After all, the majority of Americans now live in a state that has marriage equality and new LGBTQ rights cases are being brought to the courts at a high rate. With all of these successes, it is no surprise that people have begun to question what wearing purple, posting a Facebook status, and refusing to speak for a day will actually do to help LGBTQ people around the world.
As I learned from growing up in a small, Midwestern town where being LGBTQ is still taboo, finding allies in less than friendly environments can be an almost impossible task. Every time one makes the decision to come out to a friend, family member, or colleague, they know full well that it could cost them their best friend, the support of their family, or even their home and job. LGBTQ people in these areas also live in constant fear that someone will “out” them in the wrong setting, which can bring dire consequences. It is for exactly this reason that days like those mentioned above are so important.
As these days become more celebrated across the country and the world, the number of people who actively participate in them grows as well. Participation in these events, especially in less-accepting areas of the world, gives LGBTQ people a clear way to identify the allies that they often need for support. This support can often mean the difference between life and death for struggling LGBTQ youth, and LGBTQ people in general. Seeing everyone coming together on these days also creates a unified front that shows growing overall acceptance of LGBTQ people. This new front also suppresses the notion that violent acts against LGBTQ are permissible in the 21st century.
Although putting on purple clothing and changing your profile picture may not seem like much, these actions bring together LGBTQ and allied people around the world for a common cause. They are slowly making LGBTQ acceptance the “norm” in society and have saved countless lives, including my own, in the process.
-Kyle James, Campus Ambassador