By Shanna Katz
On October 20th, millions of people wore purple. Some people changed their twitter or facebook pictures to be purple, people blogged and tweeted and talked and discussed all sorts of things about anti-LGBTQ bullying, about bullying as a whole. They made It Gets Better youtube videos, they linked to the Trevor Project and the Make It Better Project. People reached out to youth, they started dialogue, it was great.
And then it was October 21st. The purple images turned back to Technicolor, the topics of conversation included Modern Family quotations and what people were going to dress up as for Halloween. While a select few continued to talk about the bullying, the hate crimes, the youth who have to put up with this ridiculous abuse on a regular basis, the buzz about it all had died down. I mean, it wasn’t Spirit Day anymore…so why bother to wear purple?
THIS is one of the huge problems out society has in creating change. We choose a day, a week or even a month – we pour our voices, our shirt colors, our social network pictures, and sometimes even a few bucks into the cause de jour, and then poof. Back to our daily lives. How many people wear a red ribbon and discuss HIV/AIDS not on World AIDS Day in December? How many people discuss breast cancer, beating it and finding a cure…when it’s not pink October?
It’s great that we have awareness days, but awareness of important issues like cancers, STIs, domestic violence, bullying, sexual assault, etc should not be relegated to days or months. We start to care only in 24 hour or 30 day long periods, and then, all that momentum is gone. What about the teen that gets teased every day for being who they are? Well, it’s not October 20th, so that’s not the appropriate cause. Sorry.
Or how about the fact that in addition to housing Breast Cancer Awareness Month , Spirit Day and Coming Out Day, October is also host to Domestic Violence Awareness Month (whose color also just happens to be purple). However, Domestic Violence isn’t in our faces right now, it’s not the trendy cause. So we wear purple to support the end to homophobic and transphobic bullying, but we have hardly any conversation about preventing relationship violence in our society, and how to support survivors. Because there is a new cause, other important issues fall to the wayside.
What is the answer? I don’t know. Because of cell phones, and smart phones, and the ease/accessibility of the internet for many, it is hard to think outside of immediacy, past “right now!” or beyond this moment. We tend to crave immediate gratification – change my profile picture NOW, and then I don’t have to think about it anymore.
The problem is that when we have that mind set, we let down those who we are claiming to support.
Awareness is the first step, yes, but it shouldn’t be tied to a day or a month. If you are aware of bullying, then throw some dollars or time at your local LGBTQ youth group…or help create one. Donate monthly to the issues you really are aware of and DO care about. Whether it is money, or time, or in kind donations, keep it up. Be aware of these issues not just for a day, or for a month, but all year. Support them truly, instead of just via a profile picture, or reposting a tweet. Only when we decide as a society to care ALL of the time can we actually create constant change.