Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wearing Purple on Spirit Day

Today is Sprirt Day, a day when many are wearing purple in solidarity with the LGBT community, to remember the recent suicides of several young people, to stand against bullying, to lobby for peace among people, generally.

Although they are not the first, and unfortunately will  probably not be the last, the tragic suicides/deaths of several young people in the last weeks have focused attention on the large and growing problem of bullying and homophobia.

I began to search for the names and ages of these most recent cases - the list is longer than the names in the news now.  Scratch the surface and the facts stun, not only because of the hatred and all the sadness, but because of the sheer number, as well.

Names and ages of those in the news now:

Tyler Clementi - 18
Asher Brown - 13
Seth Walsh - 13
Justin Aaberg - 15
Raymond Chase - 19
Zach Harrington - 19
Billy Lucas - 15
Cody Barker - 17
Chantal Dube - 17
Jeanine Blanchette - 21

That is 10 - TEN - young people in such pain that they chose to end their lives. Ten young people who will not be here to share their talents with the world. Ten families who are forever altered by grief and doubt.

TEN is not all. TEN is the number in the news recently.TEN has impact. TEN focuses our attention. But even one is one too many, and we have already heard the story of ONE several times over the years.

The other, happier large number I found while doing research is of the projects, places, agencies, blogs, and organizations (in government and otherwise) trying to understand this terrible problem of bullying, generally, and homophobic bullying, specifically and to help in any number of ways. Cher, at Askcherlock, investigates the reasons for and some possible solutions to the problem.

One project that reaches out by example and with encouragement from many, many people is the It Gets Better Project, started by Dan Savage.

Ellen Degeneres, one among many, many voices, comments on the tragedy of youth and gay suicide:

So today is a good day to wear purple, to mark the passing of young lives, and to reflect and act on this awful and growing problem.


Hels said...


I have watched so-called adults relentlessly attack vulnerable people in MIRC, to the point where I would definitely call it vicious bullying. Imagine how much more vulnerable adolescents are.

Perhaps it was alway so. The difference is that modern social networks, MIRC etc make the bullying faster and more visible over a greater geographic distance.

I doubt if parents would get over a child dying of cancer. But parents would NEVER recover from their child suiciding.

ChrisJ said...


I agree; the damage of bullying is much more instant and widespread now than we were kids.

Ciss B said...

I also wore purple today, and made a point to watch Ellen too. She had on the councilman (Joel Burns) from Ft. Worth, Texas who made an impassioned plea to youth struggling with their sexual identity that it does get better.

I watched his plea on the news recently and am so angry at those who believe they have the right to bully any young person concerning their sexual identity.

It amazes me how anyone can let their own fears let them justify such callous and abominable acts against anyone.

I think Hels has it exactly right - parents who have to deal with the pain of a child's suicide never get over that kind of loss.

ChrisJ said...


I also saw Burns's speech to the town council; it was very moving. The "It Gets Better" project has many videos very similar to that.

Pearl said...

yes, for sure. it is odd how this is still an issue. we'll inch away at it. google's ad was good too. posted a link to it at the 365.

ChrisJ said...


It's interesting how things inch, even surge, forward, but always a backlash of some force.

askcherlock said...

It is dreadful and heart-wrenching that these young people have suffered in this way. I agree that this bullying of the vulnerable is horrific and a pox on our society.There are too many "phobes," names for wretched behavior that too often results in suicide. Thank you for raising awareness. Perhaps through your post, a life will be saved today.

ChrisJ said...


Yes, when we realize how many "phobes" there are, it is so overwhelming.