Purple Day in US to support gay teens
Oct 20, 2010, 23:28 GMT
Washington - Up to 1.6 million people on Wednesday pledged on Facebook and other social networks to wear purple in the United States, supporting teenage homosexuals and protesting harassment against them.
Spirit Day was launched as a response to a wave of suicides among young gays. Canadian teenager Brittany McMillan made the first move on Facebook, and the initiative was soon picked up by organizations such as the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD).
'The tragic suicides of our youth have started an important dialogue among Americans about the dangers of bullying,' GLAAD president Jarrett Barrios said in a statement.
'Now is the time to show our children that millions of Americans accept and value them regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity,' he added.
According to USA Today, Tammy Aaberg, whose son Justin hanged himself in his room in July after being harassed at school over his sexual orientation, will be among those wearing purple.
'We are losing too many kids. This has been kept silent for too long,' Aaberg, 36, from Fridley, Minnesota, told the newspaper.
TV personalities like Ryan Seacrest, of American Idol fame, and Giuliana Rancic, from E!, have also pledged to wear something purple.
The suicides of gay teens in the US have received a lot of media attention in recent weeks, particularly after the death of Tyler Clementi.
Clementi, 18, a student at Rutgers University in New Jersey, jumped off a bridge in late September after a room-mate allegedly posted on the internet footage of a sexual encounter between Clementi and another young man.
According to US media, an emotional call from openly gay Forth Worth city councilman Joel Burns to homosexual teens not to resort to suicide when faced with social pressures has become a hit on YouTube, with more than 2 million hits.
Late Tuesday US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton also sent a video message to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth.
'I have a message for all the young people out there who are being bullied, or who feel alone and find it hard to imagine a better future: First of all, hang in there and ask for help,' Clinton said.
'Your life is so important - to your family, your friends, and to your country. And there is so much waiting for you, both personally and professionally - there are so many opportunities for you to develop your talents and make your contributions,' she said.
'Take heart, and have hope,' was Clinton's message.