[INTERVIEW] Brittany McMillan, Teen Founder of #SpiritDay

Photo: Brittany McMillan.

Last year, one Canadian teenager started a violet revolution. Yes, violet, not violent. This one’s all about peace–and purple.

Her idea, Spirit Day, was a wild success, spreading awareness about LGBT-targeted teen bullying on a huge scale. This year’s is bound to be even bigger, and you’d better believe the MTV Act offices are packed with purple garb (even the MTV logo has gone purple, too). We pinned down the campaign’s busy founder, 17-year old Brittany McMillan, to find out how one person can make a difference, why straight people have a stake — and how best to rock your violet.

Did you ever expect it to grow so huge so fast!?

Not at all! People always say cliched things like “small people can do big things” or “it only takes one person to make a difference,” but I never really believed that with all my heart. I never doubted that people would believe in it; I just never thought that so many people would believe in it.

Did you have any particularly moving or fun experiences with Spirit Day fans last year?

Last year, a man messaged me telling me that he had gotten his entire Best Buy store to wear purple. And my cousin who goes to University of Victoria told me that they were doing a big celebration there, which they are doing again this year. I remember seeing all of the artwork on DeviantArt when they helped to spread the word about Spirit Day, too.

I think the most moving moment for me happened when I was actually at school on the 20th. I was in class and most of my class was wearing purple, which was thrilling enough as it is. At some point in the class, one of my classmates who wasn’t wearing purple asked “Is there a reason why almost everyone is wearing purple today?” and before I could even say anything, another girl answered. She told him all about Spirit Day and the suicides and what wearing purple symbolized, and other students kept adding things, too. I don’t think they knew that I had created it, but it was really moving to see them so dedicated to the cause and so informed about it, which was my goal in the first place.

The pride flag boasts a full spectrum rainbow. Why did you choose purple?

Purple is the color that represents spirit on the rainbow flag. I want people to have the spirit to stand up to homophobia and support their friends and family; and for those who are being bullied, I want them to have the spirit to persevere through it and to keep going, even though times are tough, because their lives will get better.

What do you want to say to straight readers who have maybe never taken a stand on this issue?

Having straight allies is crucial, especially (in my opinion) straight males. When they stand up to homophobia, they are more likely to be teased for it, but it also sends a greater message.

If you have ever imagined finding ‘The One,’ then at least stand up for that. Stand up for every person’s right to find ‘The One,’ regardless of their orientation. If you are brave, then you will encourage others to be brave, too.

Any suggestions on how to rock purple well?

I’ve heard just about everything. Make-up and jewelry are awesome ways to go, especially if you have to wear a uniform. Paint your nails, put on some purple eye-shadow or wear a purple wristband. For the more dedicated: Dye your hair, even if it’s just a streak or out of a spray can. Purple hair is a definite eye-catcher.

Join us, and go purple today:

Wear purple. (If you need wardrobe inspiration, look no further than Ke$ha.)

Turn your online avatars purple! Use this Facebook or Twitter twibbon. You can turn your phone and Google+/Tumblr accounts purple, too!

+ Start a conversation and download an Amplify Your Voice resource kit.

take action

Go Purple

Go Purple

Go purple today, #SpiritDay! Use this Twibbon tool to turn your Facebook and Twitter purple.