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LGBTQ Spirit Day
October 19, 2010 8:20 PM   Subscribe

Add some purple to your outfit today! October 20th is LBGTQ Spirit Day. Show your pride by remembering those who have taken their lives because of gay bullying
posted by WhiteWhale (140 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
obligatory
posted by mannequito at 8:23 PM on October 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Hillary Clinton: Hang in there.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:37 PM on October 19, 2010 [5 favorites]


Amanda Lepore: Do not commit suicide.
posted by hermitosis at 8:41 PM on October 19, 2010


When did the fifth letter get added to the mnemonic?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:56 PM on October 19, 2010


Okay. Maybe it's because I come from a college setting where LGBT support is generally one of those unvoiced but generally agreed upon sentiments, but what's the point of wearing purple other than that feel-good mood you get like you're wearing Patriots colors at a Patriots home game?

I recognize that gay people are human beings and there are still stupid, idiotic, inhumane things happening to these human beings who happen to be gay because of one particular part of their identity that do not define them as a whole but my issue isn't about the issue; I have no beef with gays in the same way that I don't have beef with straights. Hell, I'm supportive of any cause that tries to make people recognize that human beings are defined by more than just a single characteristic and that we can't make generalizations by that single element. My issue is more about whether or not this artificial generation of the discourse on gay rights is anything more than just, well, a circle jerk in some areas (like on a college campus) and an emblematic display of a personal ideology in others.

Is bringing up the issue really doing much? Is it about the media attention, that this movement will be striking up conversations everywhere? I almost get the feeling that those who are homophobic won't be dissuaded. So is it more about the conversion of those who hold no beliefs, like younger people? But if we just bring up the discourse of 'gay rights' as opposed to that of 'human rights', then won't that be ultimately artificial if they don't take that next step in recognizing that it's less about 'gay', it's more about the person who carries that definition as a small part of the whole?

I don't know and I'm sure there's an obvious answer to these questions and it'll be something along the lines of 'dumb questions, you're missing the point'. I'm young, idealistic, and kind of stupid about these things so I apologize so wholeheartedly in advance if I'm a rube but I'm super curious and I don't think I've ever received an answer more than 'well, we just should'.
posted by dubusadus at 8:58 PM on October 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Okay. Maybe it's because I come from a college setting where LGBT support is generally one of those unvoiced but generally agreed upon sentiments

That's precisely because it was made a voiced issue. Issues don't magically settle themselves.
posted by lumensimus at 9:11 PM on October 19, 2010 [10 favorites]


dubusadus: Unvoiced is unheard. Unvoiced leaves room for assumptions and ignorance. When the sentiment is expressed outwardly, others see it, and it does have an effect. An LGBTQ student could see, "Hey, these people actually support me!" A bigot could see, "Hey, there are a lot of people that really disagree with me!" And an ally could see, "Hey, this matters, this is okay, and I can do this in other ways!" Each of these individual thoughts has an impact.
posted by whatnotever at 9:12 PM on October 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


can i just suck some cock instead?
posted by PinkMoose at 9:12 PM on October 19, 2010 [5 favorites]


It makes the support visible and lets LBGTQ people who are bullied, closeted, or otherwise having problems see that there are people who support them around.

In other words, it's like having a crowd of people going about their day and holding up signs saying "I support you. You are not alone."
posted by CrystalDave at 9:13 PM on October 19, 2010 [9 favorites]


If people wearing purple tomorrow persuades even one deeply-depressed person that perhaps things aren't as bad as they seem and that most of we straight people actually support them, well then, it will have been worth it, dubusadus.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 9:15 PM on October 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


When did the fifth letter get added to the mnemonic?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:56 PM on 10/19 [+] [!]


I second this question. I've only recently become aware of it
posted by brundlefly at 9:17 PM on October 19, 2010


When did the fifth letter get added to the mnemonic?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:56 PM on 10/19 [+] [!]

I second this question. I've only recently become aware of it
posted by brundlefly at 9:17 PM on October 19 [+] [!]

Yep, me too. What's up with that?
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 9:19 PM on October 19, 2010


You don't have to be lesbian, bisexual, gay, or transgendered to be queer. There are a million other gender identities that don't necessarily square with traditional norms.
posted by lumensimus at 9:22 PM on October 19, 2010 [7 favorites]


Damned time difference. On this side of the planet, we're already three quarters of the way through October 20.

Luckily I'm wearing a purple top today, and I wore glittery purple shoes when I went out earlier. I hope someone saw me who needed reassurance that I think they're okay, no matter who they sleep with or how they dress or which gender they choose to be.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 9:23 PM on October 19, 2010


Hey, purple tie day. And I got dressed in the dark.

So here's my sincere, if incidental, solidarity.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 9:29 PM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


That's precisely because it was made a voiced issue. Issues don't magically settle themselves.

That's true. Culture does take a lot of prodding and vocal spurring on to change but I'm not sure if this is the right kind of prodding. As an example, I see another Facebook event that I was invited to, the "Wear Blue Day" event (or something to that equivalent; I deleted it pretty immediately) which was, in a sense, the celebration of nothing, a reactionary movement that had quite a few thousand people in it where the crux of it was this shallow contrarianism. However, as I see it, the framework for 'Wear Purple Day' is the same; the only difference is the sentiment which, ultimately, doesn't have so much an ultimate right or wrong since it's personal and opinion-based. So this basically brings me back to my original question: why wear purple? Why not a drive or donation day for LGBT(Q?) groups? Why does it have to be so emblematic? Aren't there other ways to show support in more than just the symbolic sense? Why the popularity of this kind of event?

"I support you. You are not alone."; even one deeply-depressed person

So it's about the individual. That's kind of a... shallow hope, shallow reason? For one, is it even possible to reach someone in the midst of depression? If literature and personal experience serves me right, when you are depressed, it's not that the world doesn't care about you; it's that you, yourself, don't matter. You're drained, emptied out, and some strangers wearing purple shirts one day of the year would just seem contrived because, really, would they understand? For another, there are so many depressed people out in the world depressed over so many other things; what of them? I mean, mainly, I think it's reductive to think that depression can be cured by purple shirts; depression takes treatment, personal one-on-ones, deep, deep conversations and lots of internal movements to get through. Other than this vague, unsubstantiated hope that maybe it could help, what would it really do?
posted by dubusadus at 9:30 PM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think the Q is meant to cover not only "queer" (for all of its possible meanings) but "questioning." Other groups have used LGBTA or LGBTQA, adding the A for "allies".

Personally, I prefer Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato and Gay.
posted by Madamina at 9:41 PM on October 19, 2010 [10 favorites]


On the off-chance that it helps someone today, why not? On the off-chance that it helps someone tomorrow, or in ten years, why not?

This isn't therapy, though it might have therapeutic side effects. It's easy to do and it creates good dialogue. Dialogue filters to family members. Family members, either directly or indirectly, teach children. Children might decide not to look the other way quite so often when a classmate is bullied.

If wardrobe-based activism rings hollow to you, maybe it's not for you. There are plenty of other ways to help.
posted by lumensimus at 9:43 PM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


No one is twisting your arm, dubusadus. Wear whatever you want, do whatever you want. In the meantime, don't expect others to welcome your criticism of their well-meaning (and possibly very personally meaningful) symbolic show of support.
posted by hermitosis at 9:43 PM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Queer brings in the idea that people may not have a gender outside of the binary, and may not care one whit about sex... but even that in itself is often lumped into the "wrong" category, for example opponents of marriage, and asexual people, or just one of the billion other reasons people can be 'queer'.

To anyone contemplating making life ending choices, stay alive. Please. You are a needed person in this world.
Yeah, individuals can and are reached every day.
posted by infinite intimation at 9:43 PM on October 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


And dubusadus, inasmuch as you might say that "there are so many depressed people out in the world depressed over so many other things," who might not be affected by knowing that they have allies, maybe the reverse is true: that there are so many allies out there for so many things that an individual might be affected by knowing that they exist.

Depression sucks, but even if you don't have the energy to seek out help, isn't having resources available way better than having nothing? That's one more step that you don't have to take on your own.
posted by Madamina at 9:45 PM on October 19, 2010


It makes the support visible and lets LBGTQ people who are bullied, closeted, or otherwise having problems see that there are people who support them around.

In other words, it's like having a crowd of people going about their day and holding up signs saying "I support you. You are not alone."


Okay. So a more in-depth response that doesn't rely so much on depression as a straw man:

Knowing that people around you support you and your choice of sexuality and having people around you support you and your choice of sexuality in more than just the shallow, 'hey, you're gay! I totally support you! Okay, bye bye' kind of way are two completely different things. I think the Purple Shirt Day definitely heads more towards the latter of the two. The event itself is more of a cultural movement than anything and, like with most cultural movements, the individual is never really addressed other than in this bland, ineffective way. I mean, really, do you think that random stranger in purple will really be capable of taking on all the years of, as you imply, emotional baggage that sometimes comes from being gay? Don't you think someone with that kind of baggage realizes that the purple isn't anything more than an empty and easily forgotten high-five (no offense high-fives)?

My other problem is that this kind of event makes 'gayness' a cultural commodity as opposed to perpetuating true, empathetic, put-everything-down-and-go-help behavior, the kind that should be taught to everyone about everybody else. Because, as far as I see it, homophobia is just a small subset of this much larger problem, of easy dehumanization, and to make the focus around 'gays' instead of 'people' deflects any attempt to address this issue.
posted by dubusadus at 9:47 PM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


So it's about the individual. That's kind of a... shallow hope, shallow reason? For one, is it even possible to reach someone in the midst of depression? If literature and personal experience serves me right, when you are depressed, it's not that the world doesn't care about you; it's that you, yourself, don't matter. You're drained, emptied out, and some strangers wearing purple shirts one day of the year would just seem contrived because, really, would they understand

But this isn't "wear purple shirts to show support to generally depressed people day" -- which I disagree is shallow, but that's for another discussion -- it's "wear purple shirts to show support to people who are depressed because they

- are vilified by others
- treated as if they don't matter
- thrown under the bus to get votes
- told they are going to hell and will burn
- aren't allowed the same rights the rest of us are
- are frequently abused and murdered because of who they are.

day."

In these circumstances, a show of support is relevant, important, and valuable. Of course, if people stop there it's not good. But our society is monstrous to folks because of their sexual preferences or gender identities. Many, many people think this is okay and even morally right. Considering the cost of wearing a shirt to say "What they are doing to you is wrong." is about 0, and the potential benefits range from nothing (oh well) to enormous (make kids rethink suicide) why not declare oneself an ally?
posted by Solon and Thanks at 9:48 PM on October 19, 2010 [14 favorites]


And it just so happens I have a stunning purple tie sitting here doing nothing.
posted by The Whelk at 9:51 PM on October 19, 2010


Last night I ironed a shirt to wear to work this morning (the 19th, for ten more minutes -- I'm in the US, central time). Then I awoke this morning, and both my wife and my son vomited prodigiously. My infant daughter started bursting into tears the second anyone set her down, even for just a moment, even surrounded by her favorite toys.

I hung the shirt back up and called in to work, said I'm out today, I'll be manning the household bucket brigade.

The shirt is purple, of course, and I hadn't worn it for a month, only just recently remembered I had it. I'm not saying I believe anything so solipsistically goofy as what you're likely thinking I believe after the above setup, I'm just saying that the one silver lining in what turned out to be a seriously long and hand sanitizer-intensive day is that I've got that shirt ready to go for tomorrow.

That and the possibility that either Philly or NY or even (God, please) both can still get knocked out of the postseason.
posted by middleclasstool at 9:53 PM on October 19, 2010


No one is twisting your arm, dubusadus. Wear whatever you want, do whatever you want. In the meantime, don't expect others to welcome your criticism of their well-meaning (and possibly very personally meaningful) symbolic show of support.


I'm not saying that they are. I'm just curious about why the rhetoric that justifies this kind of event is so superficial and all the answers I get whenever I bring up questions aren't grounded in anything more than 'well, you should' and now, 'just in case'. If people are having an event just for the sake of having an event, fine, I can see that as a necessary human ritual.

Bah. Maybe it's just my pet peeve of people justifying something they do for themselves with with sympathetic ideology going into paranoia overdrive, assigning and reducing things left and right just to get me all riled up.

Thanks for the insights!
posted by dubusadus at 9:57 PM on October 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Several years ago, I spent a year at a conservative college in the Midwest. During that time, I participated in the National Day of Silence, not speaking for an entire day to symbolically represent the silence LGBTQ people face. It was an extremely difficult decision for me to participate - I was out, and it was NOT easy for me on campus. It actively alienated me from the girls on my floor and made many people uncomfortable.

In English class that day I was scheduled to give a presentation and I refused to do so. The tension in the class was enormous. I recognize that I didn't pass a hate-crime bill through congress or take a gun from a gay teen's hand. I recognize not speaking was entirely symbolic, but it was undeniably meaningful. Everyone on campus confronted with a silent person that day thought about the issue, mind changed or not. It also made ME confront the boundary between the anti-gay feelings on campus, and my own self-inflicted silence about my sexuality to make life "easier." It made me face how far I was going go to publicize support for myself and every LGBTQ person.

Someone today is going to think long and hard about wearing purple before they make the commitment. They may not change anyone else's mind, but their symbolic gesture might cement in their mind what fighting for LGBTQ rights means. That's powerful.
posted by missmary6 at 10:01 PM on October 19, 2010 [14 favorites]


I'm going to be wearing purple tomorrow as a way of starting a conversation with my students, and explaining what the "Safe Space" logo on my bulletin board means.

As a very closeted young person, I assure you that seeing an adult (or anyone, really) in my world wearing a symbol of solidarity with gay and lesbian would have been huge. Sure it can be an in-crowd or a feel-good empty gesture. But even as merely a symbol, it has the potential to help.
posted by Chanther at 10:01 PM on October 19, 2010 [6 favorites]


I originally heard about this from a family member who is gay, so apparently he found it personally meaningful enough to encourage my participation. Thanks for the reminder, WhiteWhale.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 10:01 PM on October 19, 2010


In these circumstances, a show of support is relevant, important, and valuable. Of course, if people stop there it's not good. But our society is monstrous to folks because of their sexual preferences or gender identities. Many, many people think this is okay and even morally right. Considering the cost of wearing a shirt to say "What they are doing to you is wrong." is about 0, and the potential benefits range from nothing (oh well) to enormous (make kids rethink suicide) why not declare oneself an ally?

So ultimately, what can it hurt? Like I said, would it really make people rethink suicide or is it just so that I can have another day when I feel like I'm making a difference despite knowing, deep down, that I'm probably not, that I never will, and here's the compromise, a purple shirt?

Bah, there's that pet peeve again. I'll be wearing a purple shirt anyway, because it's chilly out and I have a really nice purple sweater and what the hell, might as well feel good about the potential good anyway.
posted by dubusadus at 10:02 PM on October 19, 2010


Not knowing this, I wore a purple mini-check shirt with a deep purple tie to work today almost in resignation as it was the only articles I had readily available this morning (with a dark navy suit). Now I feel proud to have done so.

A good instance of accidental activism, if there ever was one.
posted by donttouchmymustache at 10:13 PM on October 19, 2010


Pffft to all those "when did the Q pop up?" questions! In Toronto it's been LGBTTIQQ2SA for years now!

(once did a lot of proofreading for an org that couldn't keep their acronym versioning straight across many, many documents)
posted by avocet at 10:13 PM on October 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


They. They were the only articles...
posted by donttouchmymustache at 10:15 PM on October 19, 2010


So ultimately, what can it hurt? Like I said, would it really make people rethink suicide or is it just so that I can have another day when I feel like I'm making a difference despite knowing, deep down, that I'm probably not, that I never will, and here's the compromise, a purple shirt?

Some of us (me, for instance) have jobs where we work to further LGBT rights. I'm sure many of the other people here are very involved in the issue. So your submissiveness of those of us participating is unfair.

To be honest, without becoming to GRAR-y hopefully, you're coming across as demeaning towards a good-hearted effort. You seem to be taking a moral high ground by being dismissive, but ultimately the organizers of this day are attempting to do something about LGBT efforts and you're simply shooting down their effort from your armchair, which is probably why some people are bristling.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 10:17 PM on October 19, 2010 [5 favorites]


*dismissiveness. I blame spell check.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 10:18 PM on October 19, 2010


If people are having an event just for the sake of having an event, fine, I can see that as a necessary human ritual.

Yeah. That.
posted by hermitosis at 10:22 PM on October 19, 2010


I mean, really, do you think that random stranger in purple will really be capable of taking on all the years of, as you imply, emotional baggage that sometimes comes from being gay? Don't you think someone with that kind of baggage realizes that the purple isn't anything more than an empty and easily forgotten high-five (no offense high-fives)?

My other problem is that this kind of event makes 'gayness' a cultural commodity as opposed to perpetuating true, empathetic, put-everything-down-and-go-help behavior, the kind that should be taught to everyone about everybody else.
...
I'm just curious about why the rhetoric that justifies this kind of event is so superficial and all the answers I get whenever I bring up questions aren't grounded in anything more than 'well, you should' and now, 'just in case'. If people are having an event just for the sake of having an event, fine, I can see that as a necessary human ritual.

Bah. Maybe it's just my pet peeve of people justifying something they do for themselves with with sympathetic ideology going into paranoia overdrive, assigning and reducing things left and right just to get me all riled up.


You got several good responses in this thread that were more than "you should' and 'just in case' that you've either ignored or used to denigrate the motives of participants in the course of voicing your own views about why people shouldn't participate -- views which seem to turn on your view that shirt-wearing is too superficial and unhelpful. So you know what? Fine.

Here's a link to the donation page for Lambda Legal. Show us empathetic, put-everything-down-and-go-help behavior looks like.
posted by Marty Marx at 10:26 PM on October 19, 2010


dubusadus, you seem to be alluding to Foucaults take-down of the Repressive Hypothesis, or the incitement to discourse. It seems that there is an important interpretation of his ideas to discuss, when he discusses Charcot's Salpetriere 'experiments' is where it is that he talks about how the reason people like Charcot actually hid, or blacked out even their notes on the most explicit and powerful 'reactions' they elicited during forced physical stimulation of "hysterical" women, were precisely because there WAS a power there, there was deep power in the knowledge of sex. And those early guys saw this, and they were terrified. A perfect example of subverting a discourse is birth control in France, it was originally to be a tool of the "state guardians", to prevent having too many poor babies born... this 'tool' was a tool of oppression, women took this tool of State repression, and altered the discourse to become one of personal liberation, personal control over female reproductive choice. A power inherited, and taken from the state, from a repressive discourse to a liberation ideology for individuals to gather around, and form community around (alluded to here).

Everything is just an abstract symbol with little meaning. Until someone finds individualized meaning in it, reaches out and touches it and it becomes infinitely more than a simple symbol.
posted by infinite intimation at 10:26 PM on October 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


My other problem is that this kind of event makes 'gayness' a cultural commodity as opposed to perpetuating true, empathetic, put-everything-down-and-go-help behavior, the kind that should be taught to everyone about everybody else. Because, as far as I see it, homophobia is just a small subset of this much larger problem, of easy dehumanization, and to make the focus around 'gays' instead of 'people' deflects any attempt to address this issue.

Forgive me, but I'm not really sure I'm understanding what you're getting at -- you seem to be tap-dancing around some larger discomfort or question that you have, and maybe not really expressing it clearly because you think clarity is going to make people uncomfortable. It seems to me that you may have some misgivings about what we in the USofA like (or dislike) to call "identity politics," because you're semi-sorta bringing out this argument that the gays maybe don't need to agitate about being the gays or the gayness because they're already a "small subset" of humanity as a whole and what we should really be focused on is all violence against all human beings on a global level.

I'm gay, I have been as long as I can remember, I've been out for roughly 20 years, and focusing on my and other people's being gay on October 20 or another given day or wearing a purple shirt or a green tutu or nothing at all has no bearing on whether I feel upset on the other 364 days of the year about the violence that is done in the world to all humanity. I think it's not so much to quibble about that there's some day that some people somewhere have selected to honor, acknowledge, discuss, have a sit-down chat with someone about, or even sit by yourself on a bench somewhere and be melancholic about, the many people who've taken their own lives because their being gay, or their not being gay and being assumed to be gay, or their being gay in public and being screamed at by bigots because their abominable "lifestyle choice" is an affront to God or the Spaghetti Monster or whoever you want to worship, is a problem of such monumental proportions for someone else that they feel the deep-seated urge to unalterably fuck up the offending gays' or assumed-to-be-gays' lives six ways to Sunday over it. This would include people who are only recently no longer with us like Tyler Clementi, Asher Brown, Seth Walsh, Justin Aaberg, Eric Mohat, Meredith Rezak, Raymond Chase, Billy Lucas, and Zach Harrington.

That's my take on it, and I hope I've clarified that for me (others may have different opinions, bless us all) it's not merely a matter of "just because you should" or "just in case."
posted by blucevalo at 10:26 PM on October 19, 2010 [9 favorites]


*what empathetic, put-everything-down...etc. That will teach me to type without my glasses.
posted by Marty Marx at 10:28 PM on October 19, 2010


you're coming across as demeaning towards a good-hearted effort. You seem to be taking a moral high ground by being dismissive, but ultimately the organizers of this day are attempting to do something about LGBT efforts and you're simply shooting down their effort from your armchair, which is probably why some people are bristling.

I didn't think I was shooting it down. If I did, I'm sorry, but I did my best to frame everything as a question so that at least the rhetoric was weaker. I really don't have any beef with LGBT(Q) rights, like I said. As for the accusation of the moral high ground and the armchair, I don't know, I really was just curious about a lot of it. Like I said, I'm a little stupid so if it looks like I'm chucking pebbles at you while I'm sitting on my silver pedestal, apologies apologies apologies. I'm young and naive and I don't really understand Derrida too good so if I'm neuroticizing the whole thing, well, it's probably because of that.

And no, I'm not just testing the waters following that Metatalk thread on beanplating; I actually just read that a few minutes ago and I don't even really know what exactly beanplating is just yet
posted by dubusadus at 10:34 PM on October 19, 2010


Fuck this.

We spend tens of millions of dollars and half a decade working towards the most hetro-normative privilege seeking imaginable while young people die on our watch, and we finally notice them by performing the most perfunctory gestures imaginable.

The day of silence when queer folk need to speak in all of our voices; the it gets better campaign, full of empty promises and magical thinking; the this is a safe space stickers on doors of places that are not safe; that cannot be made safe--because the institution that decides that, and we do not, and the idea that these little stickers are like the blood on the lintels that saves the newborns; we need to carve spaces and we have to realise that a generation that seems safe will eventually be destroyed. At risk of someone yelling Godwin, Hirschfield founded his institute of sex in 1919. The Nazis burnt it in 1933.

The purple clothing, the purple tie or the purple shirt is not progress. We can not live in the age of the secret handshake, the green carnation in the lapel, the discreet, the colour coding, its a move backwards, and for all of this discussion of visibility, and young folks, quit patronizing smart and capable people with yr feeble gestures.

I am going to get in a lot of shit for trolling here, but I am sick unto death of the liberal self congratulating when they do the basic minimum, and I have no energy to be civil anymore. Yr complacency is part of the problem.

When good meaning straight folks go out for milk while dressing like Divine or Hibiscus, get back to me.
posted by PinkMoose at 10:34 PM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


and I am shooting down there good meaning efforts--and I am not sitting in an arm chair, I can list my GLBTQ advocacy work if you need a resume.
posted by PinkMoose at 10:35 PM on October 19, 2010


we finally notice them by performing the most perfunctory gestures imaginable.

Some people perform perfunctory gestures. Others do more. There's room for everybody.

Am I wrong for thinking this kind of dialogue, at this scale, is kind of unprecedented? No one is putting on a shirt and declaring victory tomorrow.
posted by lumensimus at 10:45 PM on October 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


Pinkmoose, a lot of people are doing both the minimum AND the maximum, helping out in greater ways while also participating in symbolic gestures like this one.

I am angry too, why belittle the small efforts of people just coming around, when you can encourage them and maybe teach them a little something so that they may actually stand up when the time to stand arrives?

This purple thing is something that both kids and grownups can do, it is a conversation starter in schools and workplaces all over the country. It is also a way of showing quiet solidarity if one can't actually speak up. It's just one thing happening in the spectrum of a much larger movement that seems to still be building steam.
posted by hermitosis at 10:47 PM on October 19, 2010 [6 favorites]


So what would you have me do, PinkMoose? As one of the armchair liberal gays with whom you seem to be so unhappy? Rather than sit around being sick unto death?

No, I don't pretend to be so naive as to think that my wearing a purple shirt is going to save anyone's life. Yes, I have done, and continue to do, gay advocacy work, though probably not as much as I should do or should have done.
posted by blucevalo at 10:50 PM on October 19, 2010


might as well feel good about the potential good anyway

I am sick unto death of the liberal self congratulating

The interests of the people doing this are awfully insignificant relative to the suicides the action may prevent. If your argument is that wearing purple won't prevent suicides, that's a good debate to have. I'm confident you'd be on the wrong side of that debate, having spent a year studying causes of higher LBGTQ suicide rates. But that's at least the right question to be asking. Whether or not the action makes those acting feel good, on the other hand, is just completely irrelevant. It's like arguing over potential cures for cancer based on what color the pill is rather than whether or not it actually cures cancer.
posted by scottreynen at 11:04 PM on October 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Can we start a riot? I miss the old days, when we yelled a lot, and smashed shit, and burnt cities alive--can we schedule a nice solid riot, let's say two weeks from Sunday, and a little picnic afterwards?

I mean I know Nostalgia is mother's milk for radicals, and riots won't help, but it will make me feel so much better.
posted by PinkMoose at 11:05 PM on October 19, 2010


My God. LGBTTIQQ2SA is in the Urban Dictionary.

But you need another "B" for "Bicurious".
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:05 PM on October 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Start throwing rocks and see if anyone joins you. Probably some will, but they're likely to be the kind who merely like wrecking shit and not the kind who actually give a shit about your cause.

You know why people were starting riots then? Because they were being arrested and put in jail and abused by a corrupt criminal justice system. Our problems are a little more abstract now -- who or what should we throw bottles at? Certainly not the police, at least not here in NYC where they are now actively enforcing the law against people who harrass and assault gays.
posted by hermitosis at 11:14 PM on October 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


Last Sunday in Fargo/Moorehead is a lot less creepy if I just pretend they were just getting a head start on 20/10/2010.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:14 PM on October 19, 2010


i was making a v. dark, and v. wry joke at my own expense. i don't actually think that rioting is a solution, though picnics may be.

i think we have lost. i think queer folks have lost. and i don't think we even think of it as losing. we are leaderless, things are getting worse instead of getting better, and we don't know where to go next. gay bashings are rising, aids rates are rising, kids keep killing themsleves in record numbers, drug dependencies are on the rise, homophobic discourse is as present and as embedded as it ever was, we are having bar raids in atlanta and houston. we had a bath house raid in calgary a couple of years ago. the churches are tearing themselves asunder, and uganda has decided the best way to deal with the issue of homosexuality is the lynching of 100 fags, on the advice of american evangeicals.

the gay community itself is rife with misogyny, homophobia, racism, and classism.

for the first time since i came out when i was 14, i feel isolated and broken. from my community, from the larger political structure, from almost everything. i don't feel safe--and that lack of feeling safe comes from inside and out.

i cannot give up, but it does not get better. a purple t shirt will not make it better.

i live in toronto--rob ford will be mayor in 5 days. you live in new york, which had a fagbashing in stone wall (the actual holy site) this year.

why bother.
posted by PinkMoose at 11:26 PM on October 19, 2010


I think things have gotten immeasurably better. Immeasurably.

In some ways, some things have gotten worse, or they've started to revert to a previous state of worseness. But in so many other ways, they have gotten better. I'm only speaking from my own personal experience and history, and from a life having been lived in the 1970s and 1980s in the closet, in a world where dozens of gay men died in the United States every day because of the active hostility and indifference of the federal government and the silence of the mass media, in a world where every day brought nothing but more and more news of the ghastly deaths of young men, men in the primes of their lives, men who were making a real and profound difference in the society and the culture at large, men who had they been able to live would have made recent advances happen far sooner and with far more aplomb.

I can't pretend to speak for other gay people. But I think things have gotten better. If that makes me Candide, so be it.
posted by blucevalo at 11:44 PM on October 19, 2010 [5 favorites]


it does not get better.

why bother.

Sounds like someone needs to get some sleep. And maybe rewatch The Wizard of Oz.
posted by hermitosis at 11:49 PM on October 19, 2010


hermitosis.

I need to get a little work done. This is the year where I feel like we are going backwards. This week, bathhouse raid in Dallas, and fag bashing at Julius in New York, and perhaps Judy. Judy helps.
posted by PinkMoose at 11:52 PM on October 19, 2010


I heard about this wear purple thing from get this, a Muslim website, which is urging it's readers to wear purple today.

A little history. In WWII the NAZIs invaded Denmark. From the king on down, Danes wore yellow stars in solidarity with Denmark's small Jewish minority, this was a small gesture. But it gave the NAZIs a clear message that the locals mostly did not support them or their program.

I get where a few people are at, not wanting to do this. Then don't. Not everyone who is going to wear purple is doing it insincerely, or patronizingly.
I spent a good bit of my youth in San Francisco, I remember when the Gay scene was Grant Avenue, not the Castro, and being Gay was illegal and you could lose eveything for being Gay. No things are way far from perfect, but it was pretty rough then.
I am not Gay myself but I sure knew a lot of Gay people.
Most of them had hard lives.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 12:21 AM on October 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


Pffft to all those "when did the Q pop up?" questions! In Toronto it's been LGBTTIQQ2SA for years now!

In New Zealand I've seen something like LGBTF?QQ (the F is for Fa'afafine, the Samoan "third sex", the ? is a letter I've forgotten, but is from Maori).

By a weird synchronity I'd already ironed my only purple shirt before I read this. Doubt anyone's going to notice in London, though.

To sceptics: maybe for some people a small sign of solidarity can make a big difference. I remember being in NZ when a religious leader was making a lot of anti-gay statements, being with a queer friend whose brother texted her 'Brian Tamaki may hate you, but I love you' - and it meant enough that she was telling everyone all about it.

(I do take PinkMoose's point, but I'd look awful dressed like Divine - I could maybe rock the Village People look though, or wear some pro-bear gear, if you think it would help?)
posted by Infinite Jest at 12:24 AM on October 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Awesome. My skirt is vibrant purple and now I'm even more excited to wear it.

One thing I like about these sorts of symbol/solidarity events is that it provides yet another way for people who don't self-identify as LBGTQ to start up the conversation (even if non-verbally or only metaphorically) without it being marked or a misplaced sentiment. And on a day that I might not otherwise have this discussion. At least several times, which I might today (and hey, I'm already part of it right now, thanks!). It's important that we can create ways and spaces to do that, so that on all the other days of the year it is that much easier to discuss this. Even making the repetitive explanatory case for why these things have positive effect, however small (which it is not) is a good thing, as it allows us all to be reminded of many reasons, to teach them to those that are hearing them for the first time, and to rehearse and hone the words and responses necessary to fight this fight. For the love of humanity.
posted by iamkimiam at 12:51 AM on October 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


"the gay community itself is rife with misogyny, homophobia, racism, and classism"

Well, how many communities of any kind are devoid of those things, or other forms of prejudice and discrimination? People tend to -ism at each other, especially when they form groups.
posted by Jacqueline at 2:21 AM on October 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


My daughter's grade school is doing it. If it helps the kids recognize that LGBTQ is just another flavor, then I'm all for it.
posted by SPUTNIK at 2:48 AM on October 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


The Q is for "questioning".
posted by WhiteWhale at 5:00 AM on October 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


The real issue, I think, is whether or not people know what the symbolic gesture means. This seems widely advertised enough to actually mean something to people, whereas so many facebook status memes are completely obscure and worthless. For example, the whole "I like it..." meme as a statement against breast cancer. First off, what the hell. Second, does breast cancer give a shit that you're against it? How does that have any effect on anything?
posted by Saxon Kane at 5:28 AM on October 20, 2010


White Whale: The extra B is for BYOBB.
posted by Saxon Kane at 5:29 AM on October 20, 2010


Maybe I'm being overly optimistic, but in addition to solidarity I am hoping that people who are *not* LGBTQ or allies notice the purple shirts. Either that they've heard of the event and get to see the sartorial votes of people around them, or they see an uptick of purple and ask about it :) I was on the fence about wearing purple today until I remembered I have a meeting today with some higher-ups from outside my institution. My immediate coworkers already know where I stand on this (and are on the same page, happily), but these folks don't.
posted by heyforfour at 5:56 AM on October 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


So is it more about the conversion of those who hold no beliefs, like younger people?

Let me put it this way, back in the '50s and '60s, there were probably plenty of otherwise decent people who weren't actively racist, but who went along with the institutionalized racism program unthinkingly because that's just the way things were. Then they saw televised lynchings and beatings and police brutality and many of them thought 'Jesus Christ, I didn't know it was this bad, maybe I don't want to be a part of this." I'm thinking there are people who feel similarly about homosexuality today and maybe they can be reached.

And please don't tell me not to bother trying to change people's minds. That's giving up on the whole idea of personal growth, which is a weird kind of political Calvinism.

Also, I checked my closet, and I don't seem to have anything purple. Perhaps I can bruise myself.
posted by jonmc at 5:57 AM on October 20, 2010 [6 favorites]


I'M WEARING PURPLE! ♥
posted by morganannie at 5:59 AM on October 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm wearing purple today, partly because I've worn green every Thursday for more than 50 years. Back in 1956, my family moved to a not-very-tolerant neighborhood in San Francisco. I was 11 and in sixth grade. I knew already that I was queer, but had no safe way to express it. A girl at my new school took it upon herself to tell me the rules, including "only queers wear green on Thursdays." I made myself two promises at that moment: I will always wear green on Thursday, but not out where anyone can see it ... yet. Thank goodness for underwear with floral decorations!
posted by Carol Anne at 6:09 AM on October 20, 2010 [10 favorites]


"only queers wear green on Thursdays."

What about the army?
posted by jonmc at 6:20 AM on October 20, 2010


I'm wearing purple, although I often do so I'm not sure how much of a statement it makes. I did do it on purpose though, since we have an "all hands" function this afternoon and I'm hoping that at least some people get it. (OK, I'll be honest. I really hope some of the "church ladies" get it.)
posted by JoanArkham at 6:28 AM on October 20, 2010


i think we have lost.

I think things can get worse and better at the same time. Look at today's New York Times- the military is starting to work on complying with the order to stop enforcing DADT.

I'm wearing my purple today!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:32 AM on October 20, 2010


I just figured the Q stood for BBQ, as in OMGWTFBBQ and LGBTTBBQ
posted by Plutor at 6:36 AM on October 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


My chief complaint is that events like this require me to make at least one semi-coherent thought before leaving the house in the wee hours of the morning.

Instead, I did the next best thing an changed my facebook profile picture to one of me wearing a purple shirt.

Also, I'm going to claim colorblindness for a day and refuse to distinguish between blue and purple. Therefore this page and my tie are both outright celebratory.

Also I'm going to spend all day on Grindr sending out shirtless messages of hope and solidarity.
posted by jph at 6:44 AM on October 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't have any purple clothing, and I just found out about this whole thing yesterday. Is it OK with you guys if I just go to Early Voting and vote for the progressive candidates that supported my county's Human Rights Ordinance instead?
posted by Cookiebastard at 6:46 AM on October 20, 2010


Solon and Thanks: "To be honest, without becoming to GRAR-y hopefully, you're coming across as demeaning towards a good-hearted effort. You seem to be taking a moral high ground by being dismissive, but ultimately the organizers of this day are attempting to do something about LGBT efforts and you're simply shooting down their effort from your armchair, which is probably why some people are bristling."

Huh? I thought his questions and responses were pretty respectful and appropriate.

Re: original post: Q = Queer? Pardon my naivety but isn't "queer" a derogatory term?

posted by KevinSkomsvold at 6:47 AM on October 20, 2010


I long ago made a lifestyle decision that my wardrobe would contain only earth tones and warm colors. There isn't any purple in my closet. No blue either.

This is the only time in my life when this has been glaringly inconvenient. As a proud member of the LGBTWTFBBQ community, you're just going to have to imagine my support. IMAGINE SOME VAST AMOUNTS OF SUPPORT BECAUSE MAN, THERE'S A LOT OF IT COMING FROM ME.
posted by sonika at 6:47 AM on October 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


Oh look...forgot to close my italics again. I need a pill.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 6:48 AM on October 20, 2010


Re: original post: Q = Queer? Pardon my naivety but isn't "queer" a derogatory term?

"Queer" is one of those words that's been/is being reclaimed by the GLBTQ community to describe someone with alternative sexuality that might not fit under the categories of G, L, or B. I prefer to identify as "queer," but I'll use "bisexual" if asked to qualify further. I don't really enjoy perpetuating the gender binary, but "pansexual" doesn't really suit me and confuses people unfamiliar with the GLTBWTFBBQ pantheon just as much as "queer" does.

So, yeah, it can be a tricky one to use - but it's not in and of itself a negative word. Depends entirely context.
posted by sonika at 6:55 AM on October 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Heh. I dyed my hair purple on Monday to support a friend with breast cancer who also hates pink. Good timing!
posted by workerant at 6:58 AM on October 20, 2010


People still mock me on Twitter for having turned my icon green in solidarity with the people of Iran. You know what? Maybe turning my icon green didn't help the Iranians at all, but it sure gave me a clue as to who I should unfollow on Twitter.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:13 AM on October 20, 2010 [10 favorites]


I don't think anyone is arguing that wearing purple today will magically solve all the problems facing the GLBT community. But for some people, even that very small level of activism - making a conscious choice to wear purple today - is a first step in what may become greater activism. Not everyone is going to bound up the stairs the first time out. Taking a step is better than not taking a step.
posted by booksherpa at 7:18 AM on October 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


Almost forgot to share this! Some Broadway stars got together to record It Gets Better, which makes a pretty awesome anthem for this movement, I think.
posted by booksherpa at 7:21 AM on October 20, 2010


This morning I put on my purple dress and posted that fact on Facebook. Within seconds, my out gay first cousin thanked me. I got to work at the campus library at 8. The only others working that early are two women in their early seventies. I asked them why they weren't wearing purple. They didn't know what I was talking about. I explained it and both said they wish they'd known, they would have worn purple. One has a gay cousin and a gay step-daughter; the other told us about a boy she played with as a child who was just always clearly gay. I suggested that they tell people their underwear is purple today and we all laughed.

One of the women is a white right winger, the other is a very religious conservative black woman. There is hope.
posted by mareli at 7:24 AM on October 20, 2010 [8 favorites]


Several years ago I joined the board of a non-profit organization, Catholic Action Network for Social Justice. One of the projects they were working on was putting up a billboard in that said:
Love makes families
Support gay couples
At the time I wondered what good it would do. Those who agreed didn't need to hear the message, those who disagreed would blow it off. After the billboard was up and we started getting emails, I saw it really was worthwhile. We did get our share of "you're going to burn in hell" responses, not to mention angry responses from the archbishop who didn't like us using the word catholic in our name and forbid the priests in the archdiocese from allowing us to meet on church property or support us in any way, but we also got a lot of encouraging responses. People said they were delighted to see the words "gay" and "catholic" together. People who had been alienated by the church were encouraged to see that there were people out there trying to change things. People were happy to see that they were not fighting this fight alone. So I am wearing my purple turtleneck under my Love makes families t-shirt today. I only wish it was Sunday so I could wear it to church.
posted by Lost at 7:25 AM on October 20, 2010


You know, I love the idea of this as a one-off concept. Perhaps maybe a once-a-year thing. I mean, it's pretty innocuous in the context of the world at large, and it's kind of a wardrobe-based hanky code symbolic gesture of support for anyone along the queer spectrum that perhaps they have support in unexpected places.

But please oh please, dear Universe, don't let this take on the obnoxious level of the pink ribbon campaign for breast cancer awareness. I don't want to see "tough enough to wear purple" nights at the local rodeo event. I don't want to see purple foil lids on yogurt containers at the grocery store. I don't want to see purple walkathons, purple marches, purple everything.

We already have symbols in place for people who want to show support for GLBTQAlmnop issues. We long ago reclaimed the pink triangle and use it as a symbol of identification and pride. We have used the rainbow flag for decades, also. And the lambda also has a lengthy history as a symbol. WE DON'T NEED TO CO-OPT PURPLE.

If you're the kind of person who will wear green on St. Patrick's day or whatever, and you have purple in your wardrobe and want to wear it today, by all means please do so! That's a great idea for once-a-year display of support without having to really commit to anything more blatant.

But if you really want to be identified on a more regular basis as someone who is truly supportive of the rights of the humans who don't meet heteronormative standards, please pick one of the old tried and true symbols and use that to identify yourself. They're well established, respected, and have worked great for overt and covert operations for a long time. Don't turn queer rights into a purple ribbon campaign. That is just full of ugh.
posted by hippybear at 7:26 AM on October 20, 2010 [7 favorites]


"Queer" is also used in terms of gender and gender expression, too. Aside from people who identify as transgendered, other-gendered, genderqueer, whatever, there are plenty of people out there who use it to label themselves as something other than the norm. One of my good friends identifies as queer in some ways because she has always presented as "not as feminine as the world might like or expect" -- she prefers short hair and functional clothing, works in a historically male field, etc. And even she will admit that she doesn't fully get the concept. All she knows is that when someone asks if she's straight or otherwise heteronormative, she hesitates a little.

Even aside from reclaiming the term, there are all sorts of discussions about what "queer" means within the world of people who actively use it in that way. Which can be confusing, but is always good. I (as more of a straight ally/observer) was part of a rather heated discussion last month about what some friends of mine are and are not comfortable with in the worlds they define as queer. It got them sharing personal stories and explaining why they believe certain things, which was really illuminating for all of us.

I'm not often comfortable with terms that are, well, labels that aren't actually labeling things as something specific. We're used to labels and frames because they help us make sense of the world. But I kind of like "queer" as a catch-all for "not heteronormative" -- maybe because I like all of the people I know who choose to use that term for themselves. Might be simplistic, but whatevs.
posted by Madamina at 7:31 AM on October 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


We have used the rainbow flag for decades, also.

I totally agree with you about the all-purple everything, but the purple aspect of this one-off or not-so-one-off solidarity happening is actually an appropriation from the rainbow flag.
posted by blucevalo at 7:35 AM on October 20, 2010


Well, in that case, wear any one of 6 colors today. Or go back to the original flag and wear any one of 8 colors.

How is selecting a single color somehow emblematic of an entire rainbow?
posted by hippybear at 7:40 AM on October 20, 2010


My blog is wearing purple today, but I didn't just throw up an icon and move on with my day. I also wrote my coming out story, and offered encouragement for GLBTQ teens who ARE having a hard time of it right now.

Because we ARE living in a time when things are both immeasurably better, and immeasurably WORSE for us. And they're both better because we spoke out, and worse because we spoke out. When a culture shifts, it's never smoothly or easily or without effort. But it all starts with making that culture aware that it needs to shift.

It's a continued reminder that our culture is shifting, and needs to keep shifting. It's a continued reminder that queer people exist, that we are part of every church, every community, every school, every business.

And for allies participating, it's a reminder for queer youth, and embattled queer activists, and old, tired queer separatists that yes, we're tired, yes, the goalposts keep moving- but we're not alone. We're in this together.

If we all abruptly shut up, if we quit reminding others, and ourselves, that we're here, and we're part of this world, people would be happy to go, "Okay, that's fixed, moving on."

Well, it's not fixed yet. And we're not willing to let this be the fixed point of our struggle for civil rights. So we wear purple today. Sorry if that doesn't move you, dubusadus.
posted by headspace at 7:40 AM on October 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Because we ARE living in a time when things are both immeasurably better, and immeasurably WORSE for us. And they're both better because we spoke out, and worse because we spoke out.

We're living in a time when things are immeasurably worse than when, exactly? I look around today, and while I despair at the gay suicides in the past month, I rejoice that gay suicides are even making news now. A decade ago they weren't. A decade ago, we had only just woken up on a national level to the idea that maybe it's wrong to beat queers to death. Before that, it was considered sport. Gay men and women no longer have to hide their relationships, are able to adopt children (even in Florida), and most recently are able to go to a military recruiter and not be turned away.

I don't think "immeasurably worse" means what you think it means.
posted by hippybear at 7:51 AM on October 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


I don't think "immeasurably worse" means what you think it means.

I consider it immeasurably worse that we now have people in our government openly talking about how lesser than that we are. I consider it immeasurably worse that we have teachers talking openly in secular classrooms about homosexuality being wrong. I consider it immeasurably worse that being gay is so widely recognized that now we have lunatics running conversion camps and turning a very tidy profit at it.

All of the things you point out are AMAZING, and I'm thrilled to see the progress we've made even in a short thirty years. I now have faith that we'll see gay marriage legal in every state in my lifetime; I now have faith that we will serve openly in the military within the next few years (because I didn't get to serve openly in the 90s, that's for damned sure.)

Our progress is extraordinary- It's AMAZING that people get fired now for being abusive to gays and lesbians. It's fantastic that people actually go to jail now for raping and assaulting us. but I absolutely cannot say everything is much better.

Silent bigotry certainly killed, but out loud, open-mouthed, abusive, aggressive bigotry is just as insidious- and it has a cheering section. I consider that immeasurably worse.
posted by headspace at 8:01 AM on October 20, 2010


Hrm. okay. I really don't agree with you on much of your POV about how much worse things are now than before... Homosexuality is no longer considered an illness by professional care workers. Shock treatment isn't being administered unwillingly to people institutionalized for their sexual orientation. Chemical castration isn't being used to "cure" gay men.

All of society is no longer an echo chamber denouncing queers.

You say you find the overt bigotry of today somehow more insidious than the full-on assault of the 1950s and 1960s?

I really can't see that. Really.
posted by hippybear at 8:08 AM on October 20, 2010


I am a proud and out queer. It's the word that fits, and it's a word I've been using for a long time, back when it was still solely derogatory. Because I am queer and happily so.

For all of you questioning whether wearing purple will make a difference, you don't have to do it. But please don't denigrate the choice others are making. A long time ago, knowing that there was even one person that I could talk to who would help me through the wilderness would have made an enormous difference in my life. As it is, seeing the little rainbow sticker in my neighbor's car helped me through many a dark night. I knew that if it ever got too bad, I could at least *try* knocking on their door. I'd never met them, but it didn't matter. I really believed that it was possible that whoever lived behind that door could help me if I ever really needed it.

So, to everyone who wears purple or a flag, just because you don't know who you're helping it doesn't mean you're not. Just knowing you're out there might be the little tiny thing that gets some other queer teen through the wilderness. Sometimes it's the tiniest hope that gets someone through.
posted by stoneweaver at 8:10 AM on October 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


How is selecting a single color somehow emblematic of an entire rainbow?

Well, I didn't come up with the idea, but the Canadian student who did says it was because that color on the rainbow flag represents "spirit." Sorry, wasn't trying to start an argument.
posted by blucevalo at 8:10 AM on October 20, 2010


You say you find the overt bigotry of today somehow more insidious than the full-on assault of the 1950s and 1960s?

I really can't see that. Really.


Amen to that. Don't even have to go back that far. I'd go back to the late 1980s/early 1990s.
posted by blucevalo at 8:13 AM on October 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I guess I missed that detail, blucevalo. I wasn't meaning to be argumentative in my response. Text sometimes adds or subtracts emotion if I'm not careful.

So, yeah. If you have to choose one, I guess purple makes the most sense.
posted by hippybear at 8:28 AM on October 20, 2010


hippy bear

It is more like--it got really good for a long time, and for the last few months, it has gotten really bad. i worry (for all the reasons i mentioned) that we are becoming complacent, and that things are getting v. much worse, esp., for people who do not want to get married, or join the army, or watch glee.
posted by PinkMoose at 8:29 AM on October 20, 2010


I reckon I'm coming at it from the perspective of teens who are coming out now. I write YA books; I do a lot of school visits. For them, everything that was really hideous when we were growing up, simply doesn't exist. So on the one hand, fantastic that they haven't experienced those horrors.

But for queer kids now, they also have people in their community openly screaming in their faces. In fact, for their whole lives, all they've known is a world where preachers and senators and rock stars and their PTA President hold forth long and violently and loudly on how unnatural they are.

Is it better for queer adults now? Absolutely. Is it better for queer teens coming out now? Absofreakinglutely-- but they don't know that. They don't have 15, 20, 50, 75, 250 years of perspective on our civil rights movement. No doubt they'll get it, and no doubt they'll be glad to have grown up and come out now as opposed to circa Stonewall.

But as far as I'm concerned, having a screaming, frothing, sign-carrying hate machine in your face, on your TV, on your radio, in your movies, in your school, and in your churches, with the full approval of the government and your community, is an immeasurable evil.

I do think that part is worse for them than it was for us, because when we were growing up, there were places of silence, there was a way to disconnect from it, and we had the big shining dream of, I'll get out of this little town and go to a big town and it will all be different.

Now the message of hate is inescapable. It's worldwide, beamed directly to your computer, your phone, your television- unless you drop completely out of the technological world, there is absolutely no escape from it. And I do think that's immeasurably worse for our next generation.

Of course, IT WILL GET BETTER. But right now? That sucks.
posted by headspace at 8:34 AM on October 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


Oh, dear sweet PinkMoose. I love you and I love the things you do, but I really cannot have another contentious discussion with you. If you think things are really getting that much worse, then I feel bad for your worldview and hope it improves soon. I know you feel that the trends in the current wave of struggle within the queer-spectrum community are going in directions you disapprove of, but your desires and goals require a reshaping of society which will likely not happen in your lifetime, or possibly even this century.

I do hope you find some sunlight and hope in the world as it now stands, because things are better now than they ever have been. Growing pains are tough, but they always mean that growth is happening. I haven't been as optimistic about progress for the GLBTQAlmnop community as far as equality and basic respect is concerned ever, in my whole life, as I have felt in the past few months. All the negative shit included -- even the gay suicides which are finally making the news, which are finally being covered instead of ignored as they always have been before... We're getting closer to finally being seen as real people.

That, to me, is wond'rous and amazing.
posted by hippybear at 8:37 AM on October 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Queer" is one of those words that's been/is being reclaimed by the GLBTQ community...

And that reclamation was a central part of ACT-UP's strategy in March 1990 in using the word in the formation of Queer Nation.* The group's chant (coined by 'Miss Jane' Sheehan of Queer Nation San Francisco) proudly embraced the term: "We're here, we're queer. Get used to it."

* -- "The group's use of the word "queer" in its name and slogan was at first considered shocking, though the reclamation has been called a success, used later in relatively mainstream television programs such as Queer Eye and Queer as Folk."
posted by ericb at 8:39 AM on October 20, 2010 [1 favorite]




No, I don't pretend to be so naive as to think that my wearing a purple shirt is going to save anyone's life.

I couldn't disagree more. Although many of the obnoxiously self-congratulatory "awareness" movements do indeed get under my skin (Oh, before I saw that ribbon, I totally thought that breast cancer was a good thing!), this is different. Very different.

I would have been much more at peace with my high school self if just one or two of the adults in my life (teachers, parents, clergy) had made even the slightest nominative gesture that they understood who I was, and didn't think any less of me for it. It is no stretch of the imagination to believe that such a gesture could pull somebody back from the brink of suicide, or contemplate walking down the street to the payphone and calling The Trevor Project before pulling the trigger. Can you imagine the loneliness you'd feel from growing up in a town where you'd never so much as met another person who feels the same way that you do?

If a *number* of my peers and teachers had shown this sort of outpouring of support, I might not have even felt bad or guilty about who I was, and I might have even been able to reclaim those years as a positive point in my life. Instead, I spend most of my time trying to forget.

This is the perfect embodiment of a movement whose only message is "You're not alone -- it gets better."

You're not alone, and we like you so much better as a person than as a corpse.
posted by schmod at 8:42 AM on October 20, 2010 [5 favorites]


and we had the big shining dream of, I'll get out of this little town and go to a big town and it will all be different.

Um.... that's not actually a universal gay longing or dream. It may have been yours, but it's never been mine, and I know a lot of other queers who continue to live, by choice, in small towns all across the US.

And yes, perhaps it looks worse now if you're 14 and just starting to come out. You know what's really lacking today? EDUCATION. Gay youth today seem to be incurious about what the struggle has been and where it came from and how it's built on the shoulders of those who came before. I can't count how many times in the past year I've talked to a 20-something gay or lesbian who doesn't know what Stonewall signifies, or who Harry Hay was, or what ACT UP was all about. It shocks me, because when I was a 20-something coming out, that was air and water to my gay soul.

So, I dunno, any teens who think they have it bad these days, sit them down with a few documentaries and let them learn a bit. Before Stonewall, Word Is Out, After Stonewall... Those three are a good place to start.
posted by hippybear at 8:44 AM on October 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


You're not alone, and we like you so much better as a person than as a corpse.

Totally, though I wouldn't exactly kick Anderson Cooper's corpse out of my bed, you know what I mean?
posted by hermitosis at 8:48 AM on October 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


That's between you and the priest in confession, Ok, dude....
posted by jonmc at 8:49 AM on October 20, 2010


I saw the acronym as GLBTQQIA yesterday, the last part being queer/questioning/intersex/asexual.
posted by hopeless romantique at 8:51 AM on October 20, 2010


The whole acronym thing is so confusing, maybe all the included factions should just worship ZALGO and let him take care of it.
posted by hermitosis at 8:56 AM on October 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


hippybear

i love you too. i do think that my life is better then it was when i was 15 and in alberta, and i may be a bit more eeyore about this. but lord knows, we do need some eeyores.

ase
posted by PinkMoose at 8:58 AM on October 20, 2010


I've been posting this everywhere today but when it comes to what I think about love, and who is deserving of love, and who people should be allowed to fall in love with I'm with Gutiar Wolf.

And as for the religious objection when I start seeing the Religious Right chaining themselves to the doors of Red Lobsters, and calling for a boycott of WalMart for selling clothing made of mixed fibers I won't agree with them but at least I will believe they might be arguing in good faith. But they are not, and it has very little to do with religion, and absolutely nothing to do with Jesus. What we're seeing is the rotting remains of Roman Civil Religion where they'd soon bow to Jupiter as they would to Jesus. All that matters is the enforcement of privilge. Well they've finally gone too far, these are children, our children dying. Our future. And you don't harm the future of a civilization without serious consequences.

So I'm sad for those who've taken their own lives. But I'm hopeful too, for there seems to be a great awakening that everyone is responsible for looking out for gay youth. We can't protect them from every hateful world but we can let them know that they're not alone, and that we will not let hucksters peddling for donations to direct mail campaigns determine their self worth.
posted by Ruby Stevens at 9:01 AM on October 20, 2010


...we had a bath house raid in calgary a couple of years ago. ... This is the year where I feel like we are going backwards. This week, bathhouse raid in Dallas, and fag bashing at Julius in New York

For the first time since 2003, police entered Club-Dallas, a gay bathhouse in the Deep Ellum district of East Dallas two weeks ago and arrested 11 people.

Elected officials and community leaders joined Julius bartender Greg Davis, who was attacked earlier this week, at a press conference condemning anti-LGBT hate crimes.

Davis speaks about the incident.
posted by ericb at 9:06 AM on October 20, 2010


me: No, I don't pretend to be so naive as to think that my wearing a purple shirt is going to save anyone's life.

Schmod: I would have been much more at peace with my high school self if just one or two of the adults in my life (teachers, parents, clergy) had made even the slightest nominative gesture that they understood who I was, and didn't think any less of me for it. It is no stretch of the imagination to believe that such a gesture could pull somebody back from the brink of suicide, or contemplate walking down the street to the payphone and calling The Trevor Project before pulling the trigger. Can you imagine the loneliness you'd feel from growing up in a town where you'd never so much as met another person who feels the same way that you do?

Yes, I can, because I was that person in middle school and high school, and to some extent college as well, although where I grew up was not a small town. This was another time, of course, but I agree with you. If I had encountered just one person who affirmed who I was, or helped me affirm who I was, and let me know the real harm that I was doing to myself by hiding from who I was, it would have made a huge difference in my life then and saved me years of despair and anguish.

I wasn't trying to argue what I quoted from myself above. I was responding to a comment above mine that seemed to equate wearing purple with being some sort of clueless, self-congratulatory, naive Pollyanna making "feeble" and "patronizing" gestures. The number of purple garments I've seen all over the place today where I work affirms to me that this step, albeit a small, quiet, symbolic one, matters.
posted by blucevalo at 9:17 AM on October 20, 2010


I consider it immeasurably worse that we have teachers talking openly in secular classrooms about homosexuality being wrong.

And gay teachers getting fired for admitting they're gay.
Teacher Admits He Is Gay To Student, Is Fired.

Oregon Teacher, Fired After Coming Out, Speaks Out.
posted by ericb at 9:24 AM on October 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


...and fag bashing at Julius in New York

Mustn't forget the gay bashing a few weeks ago at -- of all places -- the Stonewall Inn.
posted by ericb at 9:36 AM on October 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


But what IS amazing about the story of that fired teacher.... is that it's even news at all. Not too terribly long ago, teachers were fired for being gay and it wasn't a story on the local news. It wasn't even because they had a conversation with a student. It was because they were seen leaving a gay bar at 1am. Or it was because they accidentally took some personal mail to work in their briefcase and someone decided to snoop through their papers. Or it was because the gossip and rumor mill decided to do a number on an unmarried person.

It looks worse right now, but it's much, much better than it used to be. Marginalized quasi-people truly don't make the news when they're treated badly. We're finally losing that status, so we're in the news a lot right now. It's going to take some time before all the decades of tradition of maltreatment are washed from daily cultural interaction between the heteronormative world and those along the queer spectrum. In the meantime, we can expect to see a lot of news stories about the points of contact as they make sparks and heat.

Eventually it'll all stop.

Personally, I'd rather see a lot of news stories about shitty treatment toward queers than have the entire matter ignored like it used to be. Sunlight something something disinfectant something.
posted by hippybear at 9:38 AM on October 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


Why purple? (Or lavender, in earlier times.) Read Judy Grahn's amazing book, Another Mother Tongue: Gay Words, Gay Worlds.
posted by Carol Anne at 9:51 AM on October 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Now the message of hate is inescapable. It's worldwide, beamed directly to your computer, your phone, your television- unless you drop completely out of the technological world, there is absolutely no escape from it. And I do think that's immeasurably worse for our next generation.

I think the countervailing message is also, in some sense, inescapable -- it may be harder to find, but it's there. The hate message wouldn't be so insistent and pervasive if it weren't trying to drown out and silence the countervailing message. I will sound old and crotchety, but if the internet were around when I was in middle and high school, it would have helped me almost as much as a real person would have. As it was, the only affirming messages I found (in an era when the only out celebrities were Sylvester, Paul Lynde, and the Jodie Dallas character on "Soap") were in dusty books hidden away in the 305s and 306s (that call number range saved my life) that I snuck furtive looks at in between shelfreading shifts.
posted by blucevalo at 10:11 AM on October 20, 2010


So weird. I didn't even know about this. I wore my only purple shirt today. Since I agree, I believe it is serendipitous.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:20 AM on October 20, 2010


Wearing purple is a visible sign that the tide is turning, that many/most of us support gay rights. Humans are social, and it's a way of signifying that society accepts homosexuality.

I have some concerns about the politicization of colors. When I see a pink spatula in a store, purporting to help fight breast cancer, when it's really a marketing ploy (Buy our pink spatula; we'll give .50 to breast cancer research, and make an extra 1.00! Ain't capitalism grand!) I get pissy. I like purple. I already had a purple sweater. On every other day, I don't want wearing purple to signify anything other than "pretty color."

I wore purple today because Charlie Howard was murdered, thrown off a bridge by thugs who knew he couldn't swim, because he was gay. Nobody should get beat up, bullied or murdered for being. Gay, black, irish, retarded, female, etc., hurting people for simply being is not how we should live.
posted by theora55 at 10:29 AM on October 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm wearing purple today in support of Spirit Day, and I am asking my readers to do the same. I appreciate the Google employees "It Gets Better" message, and I think it really speaks to young people struggling with coming out.

I kinda wish, though, that Google, which so often makes special logos for various celebrations, had colored their own logo purple today on their home page.
posted by misha at 10:33 AM on October 20, 2010


I don't have any purple in my wardrobe (it's my least favorite color), so I bought a roll of purple ribbon. Now I have an extra 449.9 yards to share at the office as well. :)
posted by Jacqueline at 10:37 AM on October 20, 2010


I also feel like since people have been debating it, the last I knew from hippie college/activism days, the official full acronym is LGBTQQIAA - lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, allied. Seen lots of variants floating around, but as far as I know, that's the complete and "official" acronym.
posted by sonika at 10:41 AM on October 20, 2010


Judean People's Front...People's Front of Judea...
posted by lumensimus at 11:27 AM on October 20, 2010


Dang. I wanted to wear purple today, but realized this morning that my only piece of purple clothing is still packed up somewhere from my recent move. Maybe I'll take a cue from mareli's coworkers and say I'm wearing purple underwear.
posted by brundlefly at 11:46 AM on October 20, 2010


If you forgot to wear purple or don't have any purple clothes, you can print out a purple ribbon and pin or tape it to your shirt.
posted by Jacqueline at 12:21 PM on October 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


National Organization for Marriage's Maggie Gallagher: Don't blame me for gay teen suicides.
posted by ericb at 12:40 PM on October 20, 2010


Wow, I coincidentally wore purple today. Was planning to wear it for this day, but forgot it was today. Clearly, my unconscious remembered...
posted by Maias at 12:49 PM on October 20, 2010


A few people asked "what's up with the Q" and I wanted to offer an explanation, despite being late to the party.

I identified as a lesbian for years and years until I met my wonderful girlfriend, who's transgendered. The label problem didn't occur to me until about three months in, when someone asked me, "So what, you're bisexual now?" And I was a little dumbfounded. On one hand, lay the hell off: she's a woman, would you please stop insinuating that she's less than one? But on the other hand, her experience is definitely different from that of most women, and she doesn't fit quite as neatly into a binary gender system. To say she's just a woman denies how hard she's had to fight all her life, and that's not fair. And part of what attracted me to her was her willingness to mess around with gender lines to this day.

So what if you want to label us - and that's human nature, I'm not faulting anyone for it. Are we a straight couple? Certainly not. A lesbian couple? Well, mostly, but here we go denying her fight again. A bisexual couple? No. All of those get back to that dual-gendered system, which we consider a problem. And that's where "queer" comes in.

"Queer" is more inclusive of those that feel a little uncomfortable when they get to those gender check boxes, of course, but I think that its biggest advantage is that "queer" permits quite a lot more privacy. You don't need to know any of the information about, and I'm not comfortable sharing it in some places. (Like work. And grad school.) Queer can mean attracted to both genders and not interested in having sex with either. Queer can mean attracted exclusively to people who bend gender lines. Queer can mean gay. But the best part is: if I say "queer," I don't have to tell you which one it is. In most situations, it's considered ragingly inappropriate to ask about the details of who someone is attracted to. ("Hey Todd, you only fuck big girls, right?") By claiming "queer," I get a little of that privacy. You won't be surprised when I talk about my girlfriend, and I'm a little more comfortable. And, better yet, my girlfriend isn't outed as trans. (Most people aren't actually including trans people at all when they talk about LGBTQ - DADT and ENDA do nothing to help trans people - but that's a rant for another time.)
posted by honeydew at 2:46 PM on October 20, 2010 [5 favorites]


Alright

I did it-hippy bear and hermotis convinced me, and you know what. Nothing happened. I have seen no one wear purple today. I had two conversations about queerness, one theological and one political, but that is actually lower then usual.

I met with a prof, i had lunch, i went to a show, i read some luther, i took some notes. i will go to a meeting.

No one noticed that I was wearing purple. No one pointed out what I was wearing.

I didn't feel any gayer, or any queerer. I did not save any kid from anything.
posted by PinkMoose at 2:48 PM on October 20, 2010


Also, I've made it a point to smile openly at everyone I see wearing purple today, and they've smiled back, and you know what? That's someone that I know is okay with my existence. And they're everywhere. And I never knew it.

If I'd had this while in the closet and scared as a teenager - wow.
posted by honeydew at 2:49 PM on October 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


PinkMoose: No one noticed that I was wearing purple. No one pointed out what I was wearing.

I didn't feel any gayer, or any queerer. I did not save any kid from anything.


You may have changed someone's life, just by wearing purple today.
posted by Carol Anne at 3:08 PM on October 20, 2010 [1 favorite]




I wore purple today, and looked out for others wearing purple. I saw maybe 10-15 people in that color, but I don't know if that's any more than usual, or if those people were wearing purple specifically because of this. Most of them were middle-aged women, who would seem to be the type to wear shades of purple anyway. (Maybe I should have asked them, but I'm kind of shy.)

I hope some depressed queer teen saw me and became more hopeful, but honestly I don't know. I was excited about this when it was a concept, but the more I actually walked around wearing purple the more I thought, "How would any kid know that these people were wearing purple for him or her?" Depressed people tend to be pessimistic, so if a kid is so depressed that they're thinking about suicide, they're probably going to assume that the purple clothing is a coincidence.

This idea might be more effective if paired with a pin that says "It Gets Better" or something. I heard about some people wearing purple ribbons, which seems more effective to me, since colored ribbons are always shorthand for "I care about a political/social issue!" Interestingly, I found that white ribbons are supposedly the ribbon for gay teen suicide. But I guess the purple ribbon has eclipsed that, despite also being a symbol for domestic violence, animal abuse, overdose prevention, Crohn's disease, lupus, homelessness, victims of 9/11, and wildland firefighters - among many, many other things.

Though I may still have proved PinkMoose wrong, because I've never really done any activism against this particular problem, and having made this tiny symbolic gesture, I'm kind of frustrated by how little it accomplished - which makes me want to do something bigger and more concrete about it. Any ideas? I don't live in L.A., so I can't volunteer with the Trevor Project.
posted by Anyamatopoeia at 5:04 PM on October 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Anyamatopoeia, dare I suggest you write your principal? [SELF-LINK!] You can also donate a Safe Space kit to the school of your choice through GLSEN or financially support any one of a number of organizations doing really good, important work.
posted by liketitanic at 5:20 PM on October 20, 2010


I'm kind of frustrated by how little it accomplished - which makes me want to do something bigger and more concrete about it. Any ideas? I don't live in L.A., so I can't volunteer with the Trevor Project.

Think creatively. How about sponsoring an event locally (e.g. a Halloween Haunted House, a music/talent fest, a 24-hour dance marathon, a car wash, a bake sale, a holiday-wrapping service, etc.) with the advertised intent that you are raising money and awareness for 'teen suicide' and specifically 'gay teen suicide' and the Trevor Project?
posted by ericb at 5:32 PM on October 20, 2010


The Ninth Circuit decided to celebrate the day by reinstating DADT. (For the time being, pending appeal by the Obama administration.)
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:35 PM on October 20, 2010


PinkMoose, might I suggest that the type of person who has multiple discussions about queerness a day is not the target of the purple shirt campaign?

I volunteer with a youth group of high schoolers from a largely working class area. Today, I heard a couple of them talking about the purple shirt thing - how they had sent/received text messages reminding to wear their shirt in support, and generally just applying social pressure on each other that they do, in fact, support their gay peers. It provided a catalyst for talking about gay issues, bullying and acceptance. A few years ago, the same kids would have been calling each other "fag". Things do get better.
posted by fermezporte at 8:15 PM on October 20, 2010


I am waiting for the day when everyone is covered by the letter Q. We are all queer and questioning.
posted by Saxon Kane at 8:44 PM on October 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


that was a thought i was having as well. who doesn't have multiple conversations a day about queerness though ?

(actually today, i don't think i had one, tomorrow i will have one)
posted by PinkMoose at 10:18 PM on October 21, 2010


Teacher Admits He Is Gay To Student, Is Fired.

Oregon Teacher, Fired After Coming Out, Speaks Out.


Update: Teacher Fired for Coming Out to Student Gets Job Back.
posted by ericb at 7:54 AM on October 22, 2010




Midland School Board (Midland, Ark.) member Clint McCance has created a firestorm with comments (now deleted/disabled) he posted on his Facebook page:
"Seriously they want me to wear purple because five queers killed themselves. The only way im wearin it for them is if they all commit suicide. I cant believe the people of this world have gotten this stupid. We are honoring the fact that they sinned and killed thereselves because of their sin. REALLY PEOPLE."
After being challenged by a commenter, this was Mr. McCance’s reply:
"No because being a fag doesn't give you the right to ruin the rest of our lives. If you get easily offended by being called a fag then dont tell anyone you are a fag. Keep that shit to yourself. I dont care how people decide to live their lives. They dont bother me if they keep it to thereselves. It pisses me off though that we make a special purple fag day for them. I like that fags cant procreate. I also enjoy the fact that they often give each other aids and die. If you arent against it, you might as well be for it."

"I would disown my kids they were gay. They will not be welcome at my home or in my vicinity. I will absolutely run them off. Of course my kids will know better. My kids will have solid christian beliefs. See it infects everyone."
Facebook page: Fire Clint McCance.
posted by ericb at 12:38 PM on October 27, 2010


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