As millions are wearing purple today, Wednesday, I found myself trying to imagine what this might mean to a closeted man or woman. Walking down the street are all the people who would support you coming out.
When I was struggling with coming out–I didn’t know who might be supportive and who wouldn’t. I grew up in a culture that would designate a day, “If you wear Purple on Fridays, you’re gay.” So it was a color to avoid–for fear of being outcast. Today, it is THE color–not to show you are weird or different, or even “in” or “cool”–but to help others come out, and know that it’s safe. That you support and love them and are waiting for the day when they feel comfortable, and pushing for the day when there is no more bullying about anything.
So in the Spirit of Spirit Day, let’s keep the purple flowing–as long as we can, in concerted efforts. Let’s celebrate the color purple. (All of these photos were found on Flickr and are part of the Creative Commons distribution license.)
Purple has a long history of being associated with royalty, kings, priests, and even with Christ. Lydia, famous for her purple cloths, was one of the first leaders of bible studies in the early Christian era. Purple is a rare color in nature–but when it happens, you notice.
Right now, the climate for gay people is getting better. However, there are still large pockets where gay and lesbian people are not affirmed for who they are, and what they bring to their communities, and society in general. We’ve built up a long tradition of pushing men and women back for their sexual orientation, and it’s entrenched in our churches, our military, our governments, our city councils, and it finds its way into schools where kids–who can’t hide a prejudice–act on it. We punish the kids, but they learn it from the adults.
So, go out there and get your purple on. Show your kids that you stand in solidarity with those who are in the LGBT community, and that you want to assure them that not only does it get better, but we–every day–are making it better for them. Slipping on a hat or a shirt or some purple shoes is the simplest start.
What are the next steps–the day after Spirit Day, the week after Spirit Day? The next steps may be harder, but we can do those too.
Get a group of you to wear purple in your churches. Ask to speak from the podium announcing something, address everyone, but specifically those gay people who may be present in your congregations–out or not–and tell them that they have someone in your church (or a group of you wearing purple) that they can count on to be supportive no matter what your church’s theology might say. Your purple shows them that you support them right now.
Get a group of people to wear purple and show up during a city council meeting and ask to speak in honor of gay teens.
As a gay man, I would look for any, any sign that someone might be friendly, supportive, and understanding– the weight of our secret–our fear that being different makes us less than–is
sometimes a lot, especially when we come from communities where there is active discrimination towards gay people. This can take many forms: a theology which doesn’t treat gay and lesbian people as equals in the church, a simple understanding that something “gay” is wrong or weird, or a belief that being a gay man is somehow not masculine enough.
Our military values each soldier, but currently doesn’t value the gay ones if they say they are gay. The soldier at the right here is receiving a purple heart–and that’s why I have him in the post. We value what we give Purple to: kings, deities, soldiers, priests–purple is considered one of the rarest colors, hard to create, and therefore highly prized.
When we wear purple today–we say, “We highly prize gay teens. We value you. We know you have something worth giving and sharing with us. We value what you have to say and the point of view you have. You are loved and appreciated. We want to see what you’ll become. Our country is changing. Our governments are changing. Our churches are changing. And it starts today. It starts with me.”