October 11 is the annual "National Coming Out Day" sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign. On that day, gays and lesbians who are not already out of the closet are encouraged to come out. To reveal that they are gay— even if that means nothing more than accepting their own orientation.
Coming out can a very emotionally draining and trying experience given society's attitude towards gays, especially if one lives in a more conservative area of the country. It is also very liberating. No one can tell another when the time is right for them to come out. By having a day when gays all over the country are coming out, it's hoped that the old adage about strength in numbers proves true. I remember the feeling of freedom after I came out to the first member of my family, but the weeks leading up to the moment were filled with stress and doubt. It took me months to complete the process.
I see five main goals for the the Purple Hat Project.
- To help take some of the stress off of gays that day by asking that not only gays, but all friends, family members, co-workers, doctors of, clergy to and supporters of gays come out that day as well— by wearing purple hats.
- To allow those who support gay equality to gain some empathy and understanding. If this country is overrun on October 11 by people in purple hats, those who are opposed to gay equality will not know whether the purple hat is on the head of someone who IS gay or someone who "merely" supports gay equality. On this day, those who don't know what it's like to endure the scorn and frowns and jeers of bigots and homophobes will get a small taste of what many gays go through every day.
- To raise awareness of the ridicule, discrimination, hatred and very real danger that many gays face. As bad as gays have it in the US, there are places where gays face arrest just for being gay. Or sometimes, even only perceived as gay.
- To show the bigots and the homophobes just how big a group we are. To stand up and be counted and make our politicians think twice before they try to take away our rights and force us to remain second class citizens.
- To hopefully make it easier for more gays to come out, even if only to other people in purple hats.
If you don't look good in a hat, wear a purple bandana or purple beret or head scarf— SOMETHING purple on your head that day.