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The History of GLAAD's Annual Spirit Day
The History of Spirit Day
Here's the history of the largest annual antibullying campaign in the world: Spirit Day.
- Brittany McMillan, then a 15-year-old in high school, launched the idea to wear purple in honor of the rash of young people who were dying by suicide after anti-LGBTQ+ bullying. A Facebook event page for Spirit Day went viral, and GLAAD began working on the day to involve celebrities, athletes, businesses, elected officials, organizations, and landmarks. The cast of Glee and Ricky Martin, plus hosts of The View, CNBC, and Today participated in year 1.
- The Obama White House went purple for Spirit Day on Facebook and posted about the day on WhiteHouse.gov.
- The American Federation of Teachers and GLAAD partnered on Spirit Day classroom kits for teachers and a series of public service announcements featuring LGBTQ youth with Amy Poehler, Shaquille O'Neal, Chaz Bono, Naya Rivera, and more. Comcast donated $3 million in airtime to push the PSAs to 20 million homes.
- All sports leagues including NASCAR participated.
- The Welcome to Vegas sign changed in honor of the day.
- Betty White became "Betty Purple."
- Oprah changed her Twitter photo with a purple filter.
* Laverne Cox and transgender youth lit the Empire State Building.
- Hillary Clinton tweeted "to everyone who's ever been bullied for who you are: You're perfect, and I'm proud of you. #SpiritDay -H."
- Britney Spears offered a video message to youth.
- Twitter launched the #SpiritDay emoji with GLAAD and Major League Baseball.
- Game of Thronesoffered support as well.
- Celine Dion sang "Purple Rain" during her concert and spoke to LGBTQ youth.
- First Spirit Day concert hosted by Justin Tranter and featuring Adam Lambert singing "Living on a Prayer" and Courtney Love singing "Hands to Myself."
- Kerry Washington celebrated the day!
- Kellogg's launched "All Together" Spirit Day cereal.
- Mariah Carey celebrated!
* Democratic presidential hopefuls offered Spirit Day messages. They included Sen. Kamala Harris, Vice President Joe Biden, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, and Sen. Cory Booker. Buttigieg, a gay man, told young people, "Take strength in the fact that there are a whole bunch of people around the world cheering you on that have never even met you."
* Songwriter Justin Tranter, who's penned hits for the likes of Britney Spears and Ariana Grande, held a benefit concert and told the audience his harrowing story of being physically assaulted by bullies in high school -- and being punished for it instead of the perpetrators.
* The global pandemic still raged and everyone was worried about the presidential election, but celebrities like Sterling K. Brown (pictured), Elizabeth Banks, Reba McEntire, Halle Berry, and soon-to-be President Joe Biden took time to send messages of support to LGBTQ+ youth.
* Andy Cohen, Celine Dion, Whoopi Goldberg, and more appeared in GLAAD's video recap of the day.