Wear it Purple Day – creating an LGBTIQA+ inclusive community

Two op shop staff members wear purple shirts to celebrate Wear It Purple day

Wear it Purple Day seeks to empower and bring love to communities who have suffered at the hands of prejudice and deep social injustice. This day was created in response to the multitude of horrific stories of abuse, harassment and the high suicides rates amongst LGBTIQA+ young people as a result of bullying and discrimination.

It all starts with a relationship

Empowerment and progress always start within grassroots movements, growing out of situations of injustice and hardship with a focus on how to create more opportunity and equality for those that come after us.

The progress we at Sacred Heart Mission seek on a broader societal level of freedom from discrimination starts with one-one-one interactions based in kindness and understanding. At Sacred Heart Mission, it all starts with a relationship. This is why having courageous conversations that celebrate diversity and holding higher standards for the way organisations and businesses treat LGBTIQA+ people, is deeply important to us.

LGBTIQA+ rights have come a long way

2022 marks the 12-year anniversary of Wear it Purple Day. It’s undeniable our society has come a long way since 2010, with legislative protection arriving in 2013 wherein it became unlawful under federal law to discriminate against anyone upon the basis of sexual orientation, intersex status or gender identity.

In 2016, the NSW police apologised for the arrests and treatment of LGBTIQA+ people at the 1978 Mardi Gras Parade, and finally marriage equality throughout Australia was reached in 2017.

Despite this beautiful progress, there is still the urgent need for more improvement and continued momentum towards true and greater equality for all LGBTIQA+ people and their families. Many continue to face discrimination, harassment and are disproportionately represented in mental health, suicide and homelessness statistics.

Discrimination can cause immense trauma

At Sacred Heart Mission, we work alongside people in our community to find stable housing and to support them in identifying meaningful goals to create a life that feels empowering and true to them.

Many of the people we work with have experienced immense trauma throughout their lives, and included within this are often experiences of discrimination and prejudice as young people.

We know difficult experiences in childhood and adolescence can flow on to difficulty and instability in adulthood, and unfortunately this is a common experience for many of our clients who are part of the LGBTIQA+ community.

The LGBT Homelessness Research Project, conducted by The University of Melbourne and Swinburne University identified that LGBTIQA+ youth are more than twice as likely to be forced into homelessness than their heterosexual, cis-gendered counterparts.

Driving this devastating statistic is predominately family rejection or violence, exacerbated by discrimination on both interpersonal and societal levels. Youth homelessness can easily continue into adult homelessness if someone doesn’t have the right support around them.

Visit our Help page to find support services and groups for people identifying as LGBTIQA+.

LGBTIQA+ inclusive service at Sacred Heart Mission

Sacred Heart Mission is dedicated to creating an LGBTIQA+ inclusive service, with an internal Working Group focused on continuous improvement and raising awareness of sexual and gender diversity.

In 2020 and 2021, we attended the Midsumma Pride March, as a public demonstration of commitment to this goal. Beyond this, workers engage in extra training and development workshops around supporting LGBTIQA+ clients and ensuring our working relationship is based in partnership, inclusion and advocacy.

It is one of the highlights of our work to speak with the people who come into our Engagement Hubs about the importance of acceptance and inclusion and see people live openly and proudly in their own skin, and be celebrated by the people around them.

Seeing the way someone can thrive when they are supported, welcomed and valued has been a hugely rewarding part of this work. Moving towards a world where there is no fear in living in the truth of who you are is what movements like ‘Wear it Purple’ are seeking, and what our work at Sacred Heart Mission is striving for too.

Making support visible on Wear it Purple Day

Wear it Purple Day is a way in which support can be ‘visible’, with members of schools, community organisations, universities and workplaces donning their purple get-up to show LGBTIQA+ youth that they are supported, accepted and that they belong. The movement seeks to promote that everybody has the right to be proud of who they are!

When schools, businesses and organisations come together on Wear It Purple Day to say, “we support you, we love you, we celebrate you for who you are,” – it can have a hugely positive impact on people’s sense of confidence and safety, as well as trust toward services who they may need to connect with. When people feel welcomed and valued, they feel safe.

As such, creating a culture where LGBTIQA+ people don’t feel the need to hide who they are, and feel supported and free to explore and express their sexuality and gender identity is essential for creating empowered, proud young people who go on to live in a way that feels authentic to them.

‘Wear it Purple’ is a message to all LGBTIQA+ people in our community, and especially young people, that you are worthy of respect and equality and that you are brilliant exactly the way you are!

Article by Tessa Douglas, former Case Manager at the Women’s House

Visit our Help page to find support services and groups for people identifying as LGBTIQA+.