Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wearing Purple is Not Enough

So about the whole purple thing. I am wearing purple today to show my support for LGBT rights and youth. But the thing is…who cares?

Any decent person is saddened by the recent rash of young gay suicides. We all wish we could do something to help kids and make them feel loved for who they are. But this plan to wear purple on October 20 just makes us feel better and does nothing to solve the problem. It makes us feel better. It makes us feel like we have done something to counter prejudice. I don’t want to feel better about anti-gay bigotry; I want there to be no anti-gay bigotry and wearing purple does not solve that.

Maybe I would feel differently if I worked with children or youth. Maybe if I worked in a school, hospital, library, etc., I might be lending support to a young person who needs it. But I don’t and the people who live and work with me already know that I support gay rights. My children already know that I love and support them no matter what they their sexual preference is. My clothes have not reached out to one single young LGBT person.

If today’s Spirit Day galvanizes people to reach out and get involved with gay youth, then that is great, but if it just makes us all feel like we have done our part to fight bigotry then it is worthless. We all get to pat each other on the back for being so broad-minded. We get to identify ourselves as the kind of person who supports gay rights. It is the same kind of armchair activism that makes us feel like we are fighting back against breast cancer because we bought special Yoplait yogurt. My concern is that efforts like that can actually encourage complacency because we feel like we have already done our part. “Well, I wore purple, what more do you want from me?”

I know that many Unitarian Universalists are actively and courageously involved in working for gay rights and with youth, and in no way so I mean to diminish their efforts. The aim of this little rant is those of us who are not that wearing purple is not enough.

Great article here on the changing media representation of queer suicides.


  1. Is there something in particular that you want to do?

  2. Followed the link at the end of your post. Very powerful analysis. Thank you.

  3. Heather - that is a fair question. What do I want to do?

    Other than making sure that the young people in my life know they can be themselves around me & talking to friends about why I am pro gay rights, I haven't been doing much. Do you have any suggestions?

    DSD - You are welcome. She has an important message that this is not a new or simple problem.

  4. DSD - thanks for the link to Desmond's post on your blog. Those are actions we can all do and support. So now my question is, how can I be a better hetero ally?

  5. One of the UU hymns I like has a line at the end that says "to question is an answer."

    You're asking a question: "How can I be a better hetero ally?" Just asking it is an answer. Ask that question, again and again, reminding yourself of your intention, sparking the question in others, finding together the courage and creativity to act.