Symbols Don’t Stop Violence

photo: flickr member junkbyjo

Today is apparently Spirit Day in the gay community, during which we’re all supposed to have a little pep rally and wear purple to show our solidarity against bullying.

I’m not wearing purple. American culture has become over-saturated with meaningless symbols like this purple t-shirt affectation, “donating” our Facebook profiles against hunger for a day, “Showing our support” by adding a little bit of flash to our Twitter icons.

Education and training works wonders that symbols never can. Teach a gay kid what part of his hand is strongest when he throws a punch. Teach a little girl how to break someone’s nose if she needs to. Show the kids how to make a big show so their bullies think they’re crazier than they are.

Stop talking about stopping bullying and help the kids step up on their own terms.

They’ll learn the power of their own personal space, the validity of their own inner strength, and they’ll be less afraid, every day.

A symbol is a nice show of support if you don’t have anything else to offer. But without anything backing it up, you’re just wearing a purple t-shirt.

5 thoughts on “Symbols Don’t Stop Violence

  1. Patric King Post author

    okay, so. brian collins posted something augmenting this. it’s not public, so here’s a summary:
    “Tomorrow I’ll display the color purple as a way of showing gay youth that people in their communities and throughout the country show them support and love – now.”
    “But it’s time we start to teach kids how to throw a punch hard and fast enough to break the damn noses of the kids bullying them in the first place.”
    i can get behind it, and credit to brian for not being as angry as i am.
    the thing that annoys me about these overused symbols is that so few people go further than adopting them, and it lends those people false validity. i’ve seen evidence that once the purple comes off, some people won’t lift a finger to help—including stepping in when someone’s being bullied in front of them.
    this happened while i was counseling a group of transgendered kids in a local theater group, so we (the program leaders) finally went, “okay, enough” and brought in a self defense coach as part of their training.
    (as for the photo, yeah it sucks. i picked it because it’s ludicrous.)

  2. tjg

    Interesting take. But what if we sat on our hands and GLAAD didn’t come up with a visual symbol of support. I have to say that as a member of the LGBT community, if I was 15 and saw folks with purple on, on spirit day that would be kind of amazing. If you haven’t lived that life you’ve no idea how it feels as though everyone’s against you.
    So good article tho but…
    Awful choice of photography for this particular subject. C’mon guys, you could do better than that.