A few days ago, Ottowa teen Jamie Hudley fell victim to bullying and ended his life. Hudley's death follows another Jamie, Rodemeyer, who's heartbreaking loss inspired celebreties like Lady Gaga and Zachary Quinto into action. Both these Jamies documented their struggles with bullying and loneliness on the internet. And both eventually fell victim to the bullying that permeated their lives.
Every lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender teen deserves to be able to live their authentic selves. When I came out to my conservative Christian parents in high school, I was only able to do so after years of painful soul-searching; resolving my religious upbringing and my fledgling identity as a gay teenager. I remember spending countless hours at night reading my bible, searching for loopholes or a theological justification for what I was. I became increasingly desperate the more I read, until I found support from an unexpected source...
During my church's youth group retreat, I confessed my orientation to my youth pastor. He was one of the first people I ever told, and where I expected condemnation, I got a surprisingly compassionate response. He told me that it was not his place to make any judgements and that all he could do was show me love. It was people like my youth pastor who helped pull me out of the downward spiral I had been on. Supportive teachers, friends, and family members set me on the path to fully living my authentic self.
Every child deserves that kind of support, but not everyone can get it. Which is why you should go purple for Spirit Day on October 20th. It may seem like a seemingly small act, putting on a purple shirt, or changing your profile picture... but it can start a conversation that could help a LGBT teen, a parent, a friend.