Trigger Warning: mentions suicide
Friday 25th August was Wear It Purple Day, an annual celebration for LGBTQIA+ young people. Wear It Purple was founded in 2010 in response to global stories of real teenagers, real heartache and their very real responses. Today young LGBTQIA+ people are still more likely to face bullying, poor mental health and attempt suicide. We wear purple to show these young people that we accept them regardless of their sexuality, gender identity and gender expression.
YO Bendigo, in collaboration with Bendigo Library, Trans and Gender Diverse Bendigo and Beyond (TGD Bendigo & Beyond), Headspace Bendigo, Thorne Harbour Country, Bendigo Pride Festival, and the City of Greater Bendigo, produced an all-gendered fashion parade and dance party for the second time. Four new artworks were unveiled at the library during the event, which were collaborative works by LGBTQIA+ young people. An art installation by TGD Bendigo and Beyond telling gender-affirming stories was also put on display.
Young people could try on and take gender-affirming clothes from the Clothing Swap at no cost, which is invaluable to young people exploring their gender expression, particularly when they are unable to afford to update their own wardrobe, or their families are not supportive. Headspace also had volunteers assist young people with their hair, makeup and nails, and YO Bendigo had face painting, body glitter and jewels available to help people experiment and get into the spirit of Wear it Purple Day. Attendees were encouraged to walk the fashion runway while being complimented in a gender-affirming way by MCs from the YO Events team. The City of Greater Bendigo provided Wear it Purple Day wristbands and stickers for the attendees and other collaborators provided information on services for young LGBTQIA+ people in Greater Bendigo.
120 people attended the event, and the space created was fun, safe, relaxed, and welcoming to all. Many young people stayed after the close of the event to continue dancing and help pack up, saying that they "had the best night ever". A young family who attended the event shared that one of their children never leaves their side when out in public, but at this event they were dancing around happily with their siblings and new friends across the event space - something they have never done before. Another young attendee, who had recently started using They/Them pronouns, was given a pronoun badge by YO Bendigo’s Teddy Transcendent, which resulted in a beaming smile.
Through the event parents were connected with the headspace support group for parents of gender diverse young people. It’s so fantastic that parents of trans and gender diverse young people in Greater Bendigo are taking proactive steps to learn about how to support their gender diverse children and make them feel accepted on their journey.
In preparation for the event, Youth Councillors created two short videos explaining the importance of Wear it Purple Day, supporting LGBTQIA+ young people and why using the right pronouns is so important.Check out their clips here and here.