As Pride Month well and truly kicks off, we sat down with Wear It Purple president Lara Husselbee (she/her) to discuss the organisation, and plans for this year’s Wear It Purple Day (25th August – mark your calendars!)
Tell us about Wear It Purple?
Wear It Purple emerged in 2010 by from two incredible school kids in Burwood Sydney. They were fed up with seeing no one talk about or take issue with the shocking statistics of mental health challenges, isolation, homelessness, and suicide rates amongst Australian Rainbow youth. They created the concept of wearing purple on the last Friday of August to show your support of LGBTQIA+ youth.
13 years on, Wear It Purple still celebrates Wear It Purple Day but now is active 365 days of the year. We work tirelessly, volunteering to create supportive, safe, inclusive, and empowered environments for rainbow young people. We work towards environments of true equality to enable LGBTQIA+ youth to thrive without limitations and provide visibility to their issues, their stories and their celebrations.
We are made up of 20 individuals, all volunteering on top of our day jobs, our studies our lives – everyone of us is super passionate, creative and fed up with the continued statistics/experiences our LGBTQIA+ youth face. I’ve been lucky to lead this organisation now for a couple of years, whilst it has it’s challenges (resourcing largely) – it is a pleasure to lead this incredible team and organisation.
The team recently released the 2023 Wear It Purple Day theme, what does it mean to you?
Each year, we ask our Youth Action Council (YAC) to come up with a theme and describe why it is important for them. Excitingly, this year’s theme is “Write Your Story”.
This year our YAC wanted to place emphasis on the importance of personal expression and individuality. Encouraging LGBTQIA+ young people to embrace their unique perspectives, connect through lived experience and challenge stereotypes through sharing.
“The theme represents the importance of taking ownership of your narrative and to share their experience in your own voice. This process of storytelling can be empowering and affirming and by speaking from the heart, rainbow young people can contribute to a broader cultural shift towards greater acceptance and visibility for LGBTQIA+ individuals”.
How bloody powerful is that! For me, each year I am blown away with what our YAC come up with and want to comment on. It’s always so poignant and this one is no different. This years theme celebrates the spectrum of queerness, it gives empowerment, encouragement and also is a little ‘let’s fuck those systems that aren’t designed for us!’. I really do believe that by sharing our stories, people out there are going to feel safer, less alone, more connected and hopefully loved!
How does partnerships like Volley help?
We are so lucky and appreciative to have such a long-term partner in Volley. It’s a true value alignment between the two organisations.
From support like this, we have been able to really extend the offering that Wear It Purple has. From increasing our free school packs nation-wide, to partnering for our merchandise fulfillment, packing and distribution with the incredible social enterprise Avenue Co (who provide safe and fair employment for people living with disability), to the launch of our Arts Fellowship & our Queers Future Fund – a series of grants in the creative sector for LGBTQIA and a huge range of other big projects nationwide.
It also helps massively communicate and share Wear It Purple!
For all of us out there, what can we do to prepare for Wear It Purple day?
Well with under 3 months to go, it’s time to get cracking! But it’s important to remember that supporting LGBTQIA+ people, not just our youth, is a 365 day activity. Remember, allyship isn’t about silence and we need your voices more than ever now. Start your own journey of learning, understand the issues we face, read up and listen. Next, have those courageous conversations with your loved ones – speak to your kids, your family, your friends about the day and why it’s important. Obviously jump onto our store to get your purple attire for the day, as each purchase goes back into funding our activities! And finally, step into the institutions, the venues, the brands, the corporations, the schools seeking to learn more about how they support minorities. Do the hard work, so people with that lived experience don’t have to. I hear and read so many stories of LGBTQIA+ people having to navigate policies and processes in the moment of discrimination. You can do better, by making sure these experiences are safe well before someone in need has to.
$5 from every pair of Pride shoes sold is donated to Wear It Purple. You can shop Pride here.