Written by Alisa Blackwood, founder of “Life in Story”
Filled with music, dancing, art and drag, LGBTQ+ youth arrived at Minneapolis’ Victory Park to find a palpable buzz of positive energy. Lining the park’s edge were tables staffed by a community of local organizations with clear intentions: you are safe to be your true self here.
Brian Bose, choreographer and international teaching artist, kicked off the festivities with his empowering SLAY workshop, where a few brave folx formed a circle in the grass. From Beyoncé’s “Bigger,” to inspirational speech segments by Michelle Obama and Viola Davis as the backdrop, Bose guided us through breath, movement and dance. Though the participant group started small, Bose’s charismatic performance and teaching drew more and more people to the circle until, by the end, he had us shouting in joyful unison, “I am worth it!”
Singer Mikko Blaze took the stage next, belting well-known favorites like “Rise Up” by Andra Day, followed by original songs from his album He/Him/His. Blaze shared stories of his own days as an LGBTQ+ youth and about his 2018 win in the solo category of the World Karaoke Championship, where he became the first transgender person to earn first prize.
Lady Camille wrapped up the entertainment with a rousing drag performance. She enthralled the crowd with a broadway show number leaping through the air and landing in a splitz! After she took photos with admiring youth who shyly waited to grab her attention.
Spirit Day was a free-to-attend celebration event for LGBTQ+ youth. Contributions/donations from community members included sweet treats from Thirsty Whale Bakery and Cookie Cart, and the Lil Dipper ice cream food truck by Vittles Catering. Local organizations providing LGBTQ+ youth resources included The Link, Avenues for Youth, The Bridge, YouthLink, YMCA of the North and newly established QUEERSPACE collective.
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 sponsors Target, Visible, and Wells Fargo, official sponsors NYC Department of Youth and Community Development, Porsche Cars North America Inc., Sally Hansen, and Mars Wrigley’s SKITTLES, and community sponsors Amazon, Kellogg Company, Kirkland & Ellis, National Basketball Association & Women’s National Basketball Association, NFL, Nike, and Shutterfly will all participate in Spirit Day.
In 2021, Spirit Day takes on a renewed importance due to the unprecedented challenges facing LGBTQ youth. Over the last year and a half, many LGBTQ youth have not been in school, unable to attend in-person meetings of Gay-Straight Alliances, Gender-Sexuality Alliances or on-campus colleges LGBTQ organizations. During this time, LGBTQ youth have also become increasingly vulnerable to the impacts of cyberbullying, specifically with heightened levels of anti-LGBTQ hate and harassment on social media. Some LGBTQ youth may be confined to a home environment that may be unsupportive or abusive. As well, an unprecedented number of anti-LGBTQ bills in state legislatures specifically targeting trans and nonbinary youth have been in the news. 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 21, 2021. Take the Spirit Day pledge to show LGBTQ youth you’ve got their backs at glaad.org/spiritday. Follow @GLAAD on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok to keep up to date with #SpiritDay news.