Spirit Day, GLAAD’s international LGBTQ anti-bullying campaign, is celebrating its eleventh year! In those eleven years, celebrities and leaders like Oprah Winfrey, Barack Obama, Laverne Cox, Ricky Martin, Joe Biden, and countless others take a public stand in support of LGBTQ youth. We’ve felt the impact these global influencers have had in making LGBTQ youth feel accepted for who they are: They have truly been culture changers. On the other side of Spirit Day, we’ve seen an even bigger groundswell of students, teachers, and parents stepping up in their local communities. These groups have led by example and utilized the mission ‘think globally, act locally’ to make a difference in combatting anti-LGBTQ bullying and hate.
Even with the successes we have seen in transforming culture and making our society more accepting of LGBTQ people, youth are still experiencing high and disproportionate levels of bullying and harassment.
Spirit Day remains a critical moment for our youth to speak out and be heard. That’s why GLAAD has asked our Campus Ambassadors to share advice to LGBTQ youth who are experiencing bullying. LGBTQ youth deserve powerful role models, too. People who will stand up for them on Spirit Day and everyday — and that’s exactly who are GLAAD Campus Ambassadors are. Hear the wise words from these LGBTQ young advocates below.
Responses have been edited for clarity and length.
Amiri Nash, he/him
You are deserving of love. Bullying isn’t justifiable or rational, and someone’s hatred towards your existence does not reflect your worth as a human. Being queer is an amazing thing. Remember that there are millions of us ready to support you. Queer joy exists; one day you will experience it.
Arlene Reynolds, they/them and she/her
Los Angeles, CA
It is never your fault; you are not causing this to happen. Don’t compromise who you are to make them comfortable, only yourself. If it feels safe, reach out to someone, you really trust. If you can, find community online! Online community can provide a wonderful network of support.
Athena Schwartz they/them
Salt Lake City, UT
A sense of community can be the greatest resource especially for those who have been told they don’t have one.
Alex Matos, she/her
I say stand up for yourself and be yourself.
Claire Wright, she/her
My advice is stick with a group of friends that you trust and that this group loves and supports you no matter what. Also speak with your guidance counselor and principal about how these situations can be resolved and spread awareness. Things will get better for you and the world will always need someone like you.
Darid Prom, any/all pronouns
Don’t be afraid to reach out for help and ask for support. In society, there is a stigma about asking for help because it can be seen as a weakness. But it takes a lot of courage and strength. There are people out there who love you and want to support you throughout your journey.
Derek Sherrange, he/him and they/them
My advice to LGBTQ+ youth who are experiencing bullying is to find an organization, a group, or even a single person who will support you and your identity. Those relationships can be some of the truest and most liberating connections one can have at a time when it feels like the world is against them.
Dominic Conover, he/him
I believe in you and you have amazing people standing up for you every day. You will get through this. I promise.
Levi Chazin, he/him
Boca Raton, FL
Bullies normally pick on kids who seem vulnerable, or are alone. Please protect yourself by surrounding yourself with groups of people! Tell a trusted teacher or guidance counselor if you experience any form of bullying!
Federico Rogelio Yniguez, he/him
Los Angeles, California
Be true to yourself because it’s much harder being someone else. Don’t let others take what makes you special and always have heart. People are strong and we can do powerfully unthinkable things. Don’t let someone else take that chance at greatness away from you.
Jack Waguespack Almeida, he/him
New Orleans, LA
You’re stronger than you will ever know. This will only become memories and make you the best person you can possibly be.
Jake Attias, he/him
You are worthy, you are so so loved, and there are so many people in the world who are rooting for you and wishing you nothing but the best!
Jeremy Drischler, he/him
Bullying is something that is out of your control, but know you are loved by your community and as long as you’re comfortable with yourself no one can tell you anything different!
Kaylie Duffy, she/her
Don’t ever stop being exactly who you are. I know at times the world can seem dark and the harsh words will overwhelm you but know that those words are not a reflection of who you are. They do not define you because you are worthy, valid, and loved.
Lisa Kaari, she/her
Toms River, NJ
You don’t have to make yourself smaller to be worthy of space. You don’t have to make yourself quieter to be worthy of peace. Being YOU is enough to be worthy of love. Never let anyone make you feel inadequate, unpalatable, or unimportant. YOU ARE LOVED.
Matt Jacquez, he/him
La Habra, CA
Confide in someone who you trust; the longer you hide it, the more pain it will cause you. Being vulnerable with others will take away the burden you’re suffering alone. There are so many organizations and people out there ready to support you.
Max Schwartz, he/him
As challenging as they are, these are the times that build character. A life devoid of adversity makes a boring storyteller.
Nasir Montalvo, he/they
Always remember there is a world of individuals beyond those causing you harm. Community is integral in feeling supported spiritually and emotionally, and – often times than not – can provide you with resources to help you stay afloat.
Ramirez Brown, he/him
Not everyone is going to like or understand and that’s okay. Continue to be who you are and everything you deserve in life will follow!
Riley Reed, she/they
The first thing I would say is experiencing bullying is never your fault, and I’m so sorry if that is happening to you. Some helpful steps I would say is finding a trusted person or adult you can go to. Community is always a helpful thing to have when going through a difficult time. The next thing I would say is continually speak up or speak out against what is happening, whether this means directly addressing the bully or bringing it to a person who can stop it. People are there for you and want to help! You’re never alone in this.
Sebastian K. Prohaska, he/him and they/them
Saint Joseph, MI
If you’re at a religious university like I am, don’t let your bullying be taken any different than straight bullying. This is 2020. It’s not legal for colleges to sweep lgbt harassment/abuse under the rug. Press on until you’re heard: it’s the only way society improves.
Shannon Li, she/her and they/them
Ann Arbor, MI
My advice to LGBTQ youth who are experiencing bullying is to know that they are loved, that they have the courage to take charge of their story and live their life unapologetically themselves. We live in a world that is unfortunately not built for people like us. It is never your fault and you should never feel afraid to reach out for help. It’s how we play the cards we’re dealt, and you’ll never win the game alone, but with the help from others.
Shivesh Shourya, he/him
Find the right support group. I know it is easier said than done, but know that someone is out there who is willing to listen to you and help you! Start with your family and close friends and gradually branch out to acquaintances and/or teachers or professors.
Trey Shimizu, he/him
Fountain Valley, CA
It’s okay to be frustrated or sad or angry or any other emotion because your feelings and your experiences are real and they are valid. You will get through this and there are so many people who want to support you.
About Spirit Day
Each year, millions go purple for GLAAD’s Spirit Day to support LGBTQ youth in a united stand against bullying. Started in 2010 by high school student Brittany McMillan in response to numerous young LGBTQ lives lost to suicide, Spirit Day now draws the participation of celebrities, schools, faith institutions, national landmarks, corporations, media outlets, sports leagues, and advocates around the world, all joining together to stand against bullying and support LGBTQ youth.
Presenting partners Delta Air Lines, Kellogg Company, and Target, official partners Amazon, NYC Department of Youth and Community Development and the New York City Council, and Skittles, as well as community partners Kirkland & Ellis, NBA & WNBA will all participate in 2020 Spirit Day.
In 2020, Spirit Day takes on a renewed importance due to the unprecedented challenges facing LGBTQ youth. This year, many LGBTQ youth are beginning the school year at home and are unable to attend in-person meetings of Gay-Straight Alliances, Gender-Sexuality Alliances or on-campus college LGBTQ organizations. Some LGBTQ youth may be confined to a home environment that may be unsupportive or abusive. Calls to The Trevor Project’s hotline for LGBTQ youth have at times more than doubled since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
This year, Spirit Day is on October 15, 2020. Take the Spirit Day pledge to show LGBTQ youth you’ve got their backs at glaad.org/spiritday. Follow @GLAAD on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to keep up to date with #SpiritDay news.