A guide to Wear It Purple Day

By Joel Evans, updated 12 months ago in Lifestyle / LGBT people and culture

stubbled man wears purple sweater with arms folded against yellow background

Heard of a day each year when we’re all encouraged to wear the colour purple? You guessed it! That’s Wear It Purple Day.

Content warning: this article contains mention of suicide.

Driven by the confidence and conviction of LGBTQ+ students who knew that change was possible, Wear It Purple has become one of the most recognisable rainbow observances every year. Here’s our guide to wearing it purple and why it’s a big deal!

What is Wear It Purple Day?

Wear It Purple Day is an international movement, observed annually on the last Friday in August. It was initiated by two Australian students: Katherine Hudson and Scott Williams. It is now managed by the non-profit organisation: Wear It Purple.

The observance is dedicated to supporting LGBTQ+ youth who experience discrimination and mental health challenges and are at risk of suicide. Their statement of purpose is:

“Wear It Purple strives to foster supportive, safe, empowering and inclusive environments for rainbow young people.”

When is Wear it Purple Day

The last Friday of August each year is Wear It Purple Day.

Wear It Purple Day 2023 is on Friday, August 25.

When was Wear It Purple Day first observed?

Wear It Purple Day was first observed in 2010. It was founded in response to the growing number of suicides among LGBTQ+ young people around the world.

In 2010, the suicide of 18-year-old Tyler Clementi gained significant media attention. Reports of other LGBTQ+ young people in similar circumstances also began to circulate. The tragedy of many young lives lost prompted Hudson and Williams to begin what has now evolved into an international movement.

What does the colour purple mean?

The colour purple has had many different meanings throughout history. It symbolised royalty and was worn by kings and queens in the ancient and Medieval worlds. As a symbol of social change, it was worn on sashes and ribbons as part of the Women’s Suffrage movement. In the late 20th century, purple evolved to symbolise individuality and self-expression, appearing in the costumes of popular musicians (such as Prince).

Why was purple chosen for the observance?

Purple was chosen for the observance because Hudson saw the colour as a symbol of unity, a way of bringing people together from all walks of life.

Why is Wear It Purple Day important?

In 2021, LGBTIQ+ Health Australia reported that 16 per cent of rainbow youth aged 16 to 27 had attempted suicide in their lifetime. For transgender and gender-diverse people aged 14 to 25, the figure was much higher (48.1 per cent). The report acknowledged:

“Although many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer people and other sexuality and gender diverse (LGBTIQ+) people live healthy and happy lives, research has demonstrated that a disproportionate number experience poorer mental health outcomes and have higher risk of suicidal behaviours than their peers. These health outcomes are directly related to experiences of stigma, prejudice, discrimination and abuse on the basis of being LGBTIQ+.”

Wear It Purple Day continues to be an opportunity to reflect on the experiences of rainbow youth and how they can be supported. Each year we mark the observance to remind LGBTQ+ youth there are people who support and love them. The observance raises awareness about the mental health challenges LGBTQ+ youth face as well as harmful social cultures that disproportionately affect them. It is also an occasion to champion role models to help young people develop the comfort and confidence to embrace who they are.

Wear It Purple Day Logo

How can you get involved and celebrate Wear It Purple Day?

There are many ways you can get yourself (and others) involved with Wear It Purple Day! Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Wear purple: The quickest way to get involved is to wear purple on the last Friday in August.
  • Make a donation: Donate to support the work of Wear It Purple here.
  • Host a fundraising event: Organise and host a fundraising event at school, work, or at home! Register your event with Wear It Purple and donate the funds raised to support their work.
  • Share resources: Wear It Purple have resources on their website you can share with your networks! These include social media tiles, a Zoom background and event guides.

Perhaps the easiest way to get involved with Wear It Purple Day is to reach out and check in with your network. While Wear It Purple Day was a response to the needs of LGBTQ+ youth, mental health challenges can be faced by people of all ages and walks of life.

If you’ve been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, contact QLife on 1800 184 527 or access their live webchat for LGBT peer support and referral. This service is for people wanting to talk about a range of issues such as sexuality, identity, gender, bodies, feelings or relationships. QLife and partners operate during specific times — for out of hours support, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.