In an unprecedented show of support, the six most prominent American sports leagues will all ‘go purple’ for Spirit Day today.
LGBT media and advocacy group GLAAD announced on Thursday that The National Basketball Association (NBA) / Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA), National Football League (NFL), National Hockey League (NHL), Major League Baseball (MLB), Major League Soccer (MLS) and NASCAR's diversity program would all take a stand against bullying and to show their support for LGBT youth.
The six leagues will send messages of support on Friday to bullied LGBT youth via Twitter and Facebook. They join athletes like Shaquille O'Neal, Terrell Owens and UK Rugby champion Ben Cohen who have pledged to ‘go purple’.
World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) will be taking part in Spirit Day for the second consecutive year and USA Track & Field will also participate by providing support through social media.
"GLAAD thanks every league, team, and individual who has shown a commitment to making the world of sports a safe space for LGBT athletes and fans alike," commented Aaron McQuade, Director of News and Field Media at GLAAD.
In addition to those in the sports arena, celebrities in the entertainment world have also committed themselves to supporting Spirit Day.
These include Ian McKellen, Fran Drescher, Paris Hilton, William Shatner, Stephen Fry, Ricky Martin, George Takei, Chely Wright, Andy Cohen, Cyndi Lauper, Cheyenne Jackson, Kathy Griffin, Bernadette Peters, Chaz Bono, Kathy Griffin and Judith Light, among others.
Led by local entertainment blogger Mika Stefano, over 35 South African celebrities have also taken the pledge to wear purple against LGBT bullying today.
Spirit Day was started in 2010 by Canadian teenager Brittany McMillan in honour of LGBT teens who committed suicide due to anti-gay bullying. The day is now marked by individuals, corporations and organisations in the US and around the world.