Tomorrow is Spirit Day, sponsored by GLAAD, to take a stand against anti-LGBT violence and bullying among youth. LGBT supporters worldwide will wear purple and promote #SpiritDay on social media as a show of solidarity. Noted Jesuit priest and author James Martin wrote a blog post for America magazine earlier this week on why participation by Catholics is important, entitled ‘Why Not Wear Purple on Friday?’
Citing statistics from the Trevor Project and US Department of Justice officials, Fr. Martin highlights thatLGBT youth are at a vastly increased risk for suicide attempts, family rejection, and bullying in schools. He encouraged Catholic participation in Spirit Day:
“This should be a no-brainer for Catholics, who are called by Christ to support those who suffer or struggle in any way, particularly those on the margins.
“This is an especially relevant issue for Catholics who support traditional families…For Catholics overall it is an opportunity to demonstrate their ‘respect, compassion and sensitivity’ for their gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, and thus heed the call of the Catechism. (There’s even a site for Catholics supporting the initiative.) And when we’re talking about suicide, we’re talking about a ‘life issue.'”
Martin even responds to Catholics objecting to Spirit Day and similar initiatives because of an implied endorsement of organizations that oppose official Catholic teaching. He reminds Catholics that it is important to act against injustices, even if partners do not agree on all aspects, because the alternative of waiting for perfection means halting progress. Martin speaks to the heart of Catholic participation in Spirit Day:
“Many gay and lesbian Catholics have told me (in person, in emails, in notes and letters and in Facebook messages) how alienated they have felt from the church lately. Perhaps as a result of some of the rhetoric that has been used recently, an increasing number of gay and lesbian Catholics, and gay and lesbian youth in particular, feel marginalized from the church in which they were baptized.
“So why not do something simple to show compassion for our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, especially those who are bullied or who have even attempted suicide? Purple is a penitential color, the color of remorse, and so it is particularly appropriate as a sign of remorse over any LBGT hate speech. Why do something small to show your love of neighbor?”
Those of us at New Ways Ministry will be wearing purple tomorrow to publicly witness against the bullying, violence, and hate speech that harm so many LGBT youth and New Ways Ministry hopes you will join in taking a stand because, as Fr. Martin writes:
“You shall love your LGBT neighbor as yourself.”
Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry