This morning I got up, showered and put on my purple shirt for Spirit Day. I wondered if the FPK would notice or even be aware of the day. I knew that if anyone else at work was in purple, it would be simply coincidence. And yet, I feel anything but ambivalent about this day.
Last year on this day, our child was in the hospital, dealing with depression deep enough he was considering suicide. We went downtown to meet up with the LGBTQ youth alliance, PFLAG and a few other advocacy groups who had called for a candlelight vigil at Lake Eola. Too many young people had taken their own lives after being bullied over orientation or gender presentation. While that wasn’t the primary reason our child was struggling, it was in the top 10. I put on my purple shirt and carried a candle, listened to names read aloud, and mourned.
I know my purple shirt doesn’t change the world. But I know that it matters. I know because one day I wore my Florida Equality t-shirt to the grocery store, completely forgetting that I’d pulled it on to do some yard work that morning. A gal behind me said, “I really like your shirt” and when I looked up, I could see thank you in her eyes. Then I remembered the bold lettering on the back that said “I am a voice for equality.”
It didn’t matter that it was me in the shirt. Lord knows there are many people much better looking and more fit than I am who could model it better. What mattered was that she knew that I cared. I don’t know if she was thinking about herself, a friend, a family member or neighbor (or all of the above), but she cared and could see that she wasn’t alone.
So today, I wear purple. And my Facebook photo is purple. And when I see other people in purple I don’t worry about whether it’s because they are standing for an end to bullying of LGBTQ people. I figure even if they just love the Minnesota Vikings, the local high school team, the horned frogs at TCU or some other team… and they show their colors today, it might be the happy accident that empowers a young person to push through one more day.