Today is Wear It Purple Day, which is an important day to me as a journalist and member of the LGBTQIA+ community. I’ve known of this day since I was 19 and recognise that it stands for those who are young, gay, lesbian, bi or trans, and in need of a safe and friendly environment.
As a non-binary individual myself – who has experienced difficulty in acceptance in her past – I find a day like this to be very supportive of diversity. The least ‘Wear It Purple Day’ does is remind us to be respectful to one other, regardless of gender, sex or sexuality.
Drag queen extraordinaire Art Simone who was recently a contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race, is currently acting as ambassador for all things purple. Here, she gives us me more insight on ‘Wear It Purple Day’.
Interview by Mango Adonis
Hi Art. What does ‘Wear It Purple Day’ mean to you?
Wear It Purple has a very special place in my heart as it was created while I was still in high achool. The year I found out about it, I spent the night before making lots of little purple badges that I could hand out amongst my friends. It was the first chance I could really tell people that I was gay, and a good way for my friends to show that they supported me. The ugly duckling was now a swan!
What can we do to make a safe space for our fellow LGBTIA+ community? What does it even mean for you to make a safe space?
The community has been really important to me: when I first came out and in my earlier years. It has been a way to stay surrounded by like-minded individuals and not feel like the ugly duckling/outcast within my surroundings. Since then, it’s been so joyful to see fresh faces uplifting, supporting and championing each other. It’s important to make sure those around you feel safe to be exactly who they are.
How did your experience in coming out affect the way you see the world? Was it a harsher reality compared to now?
Personally, my coming out experience was pretty non-eventful. I’m very lucky to have had a super-supportive Mum, so when I sat her down and told her, her biggest fear was more about how others would treat me. Since then, she has been such an active ally for the LGBTQIA+ community. And a much loved ally!
How can we make people more inclusive and more welcoming towards our fellow allies?
People have this idea that an ally solely protects, and that means shutting down conversations and safeguarding people in order to avoid conflict or negative actions – when in reality a true ally does the work; they educate themselves, research and actively support the community. They start the conversation and keep it going so that people can grow, learn and champion.
How should we deal with the discrimination and how should we combat it?
Progress in the community is happening, and we should all be so proud of that. But it is so easy to get complacent in your own small environment, when in reality there is still a lot of work to be done as our community consistently faces adversity. You just need to remember that the people who are discriminating against you are probably doing it against their own insecurities and to try your best to not listen to them.
One more piece of advice that you’d like to give to younger people?
It sounds lame but it’s true and that is to BE YOURSELF. You are special, you are unique, you are YOU. There is never going to be anyone like you and you need to cherish all your differences. The sooner you learn to champion your individuality, the sooner you will flourish.
Listerine has partnered with Wear it Purple Day in Australia, and Rainbow Youth in New Zealand, to create a limited edition mouthwash from which they are donating $65,000 towards these charities.
Go rock your purple today!