The third Thursday in October is Spirit Day, a day to show support for the LGBT community and take a stand against bullying, especially on the grounds of sexual orientation. The day was founded four years ago when fifteen-year-old Brittany McMillan was moved by the heartbreaking news of a string of suicides in LGBT youths and proposed that her friends wear purple to spread awareness and show support for the people who were struggling with bullying or considering suicide due to their sexual orientation.
According to Billy Bean, openly gay former Major League Baseball player and current ambassador for inclusion for MLB, this was the third year in which the MLB participated in Spirit Day. Players pledged their support and the official social media profiles of the MLB and various themes were tinted purple for the special day to show anyone struggling with bullying or discrimination due to their sexuality that the players and the league are on their side.
Over the past couple of years, the MLB has been increasingly proactive about showing their support for the LGBT community and being an accepting zone. Bean was just recently named the league’s first ever ambassador for inclusion just one year after the MLB passed rules against any discrimination against players due to their sexuality.
Bean acknowledges that the league has ways to go, but remains optimistic and understands how important it is for people to know that their sports heroes support them. “Spirit Day participation is a victory for all of us, but I know that everyone is still not ready to jump on board, and it’s my job to find a way to make that happen. I can’t help but think about when I was playing. As a man struggling in the closet, seeing baseball supporting this initiative would have been a game changer for me.”
It’s also convenient that Spirit Day comes at the time of year when baseball is at the forefront of so many people’s minds and their support can mean so much more. “It’s October and the postseason brings so much excitement,” says Bean. “The Royals are making a historic run with their eight straight playoff wins, and while the Giants and Cardinals are still battling to see who will join them in the World Series, I love that every one of us can make history today … just by wearing a purple shirt.”