The Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign turned purple Friday morning to kick off Spirit Day, a national observance promoting both a stand against bullying and advocacy for LGBT youth.
Spirit Day began as a grassroots effort when a teenager asked her friends to wear the color in support of those who lost their lives to bullying. Since then the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) became involved and Spirit Day grew into the widespread commemoration it is today. People are still encouraged to sport purple while businesses can get creative with their efforts.
Casino signs and marquees up and down the Strip also assumed the color on Friday, from 11 to 11:15 a.m. and 10 to 10:15 p.m. Similar observances occurred across the county, from Times Square in New York to the Los Angeles International Airport.
GLAAD celebrated the day and its success with an official afterparty at Marquee, with former NHL player Sean Avery playing host for the evening. The Cosmopolitan nightclub encouraged partygoers to show their Spirit Day support, offering complimentary entrance and an open bar to all guests dressed in purple.
Before Avery hit the club, he took the time to discuss the importance of Spirit Day, his marriage equality advocacy and more.
How did you end up hosting this event?
My friend Morgan is a very important person inside of the Tao Group and works for Marquee … she really took the bull by the horns. [She] has a dad that’s from New York that’s actually living with HIV, so it’s certainly close to her heart. She asked me to come down and do it, so I said, “Yeah, for sure.”
Why do you think it’s important to stand against bullying and support LGBT youth?
It really just always comes back to equality. Whether we’re talking about gay youth or marriage equality, race equality, everything always comes back to equality. I think that there’s really no reason for it anymore. … There are enough things that go on with teens that they have to struggle with … teasing is part of the culture but I think that when it’s done in an area like this where people are a little bit sensitive it’s just not cool.
I know you were involved with the New Yorkers for Marriage Equality campaign. What spurred that involvement?
When I moved to America I grew up in West Hollywood and then when I moved to New York I lived in Chelsea. But growing up I didn’t really know anybody who was in the LGBT community, so I was then all of the sudden submersed in it and I had a lot of close friends in it. When they asked me to do it … I said yes.
Do you have a personal message for LGBT youth that you’d like to share?
I think that they should just know there are people that are out there that want to support them … there’s numerous hotlines, and I think that when you talk about counseling and people that they can reach out to, that they need to know that … They need to know that big scary guys like myself say it’s okay and I think that that’s important. That’s something that they should sort of hold onto and know that there are people around to support.