Art Simone on the power of Wearing it Purple
27 August 2021 at 5:01 pm
“The sooner you learn to champion your individuality, the sooner you will flourish”
In 2010, 18-year-old Tyler Clementi took his own life after being publicly outed as gay by his roomate.
Sadly, Tyler wasn’t the only young LGBTIQA+ person to take their own life that year because of bullying and harassment. These tragedies sparked a global response to combat the growing issue.
The result of this was Wear it Purple Day, which 11 years on has grown into an international celebration of the LGBTIQA+ them and their community, helping young rainbow people be proud of who they are by bringing the community and allies together through wearing the colour purple.
This year, beloved Australian drag artist and the runner up on the first season of RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under, Art Simone, has teamed up with Wear it Purple and Listerine to encourage young people not to shy away from the tough conversations around LGBTIQA+ issues, and to accept everyone for who they are.
Listerine has released a limited edition, purple and rainbow bottle, with 20 cents of the sale of each specially marked pack sold until next Friday going towards Wear it Purple, and is donating $65,000 to Wear it Purple and RAINBOW YOUTH New Zealand during the purchasing period.
We sat down with Art Simone to chat about her own experience in the LGBTIQA+ community, being a good ally, and what the day means to her.
Can you tell me a bit about your personal experience of coming out?
Personally, my coming out experience was pretty uneventful. I am very lucky to have a super supportive mum, so when I sat her down and told her – her biggest fear was more about how others would treat me. Since then she has been such an active ally for the LGBTIQA+ community (and much loved too!).
You are obviously a massive part of the Australian LGBTIQA+ community, how important has the community been for you since coming out?
The community was really important to me when I first came out and in my earlier years as it was a way to be surrounded by like-minded individuals and not feel like the ugly duckling and an outcast within my surroundings. Since then it’s been so joyful to see fresh faces all support, uplift and champion each other.
Do you think the world has become a better place for young LGBTIQ people?
It definitely has – progress is happening and we should all be so proud of that. But it is so easy to get complacent in your own small environment, when in reality there is still a lot of work to be done as our community consistently faces adversity.
What are some of the biggest challenges facing the LGBTIQA+ community at the moment?
I think the current COVID situation and lockdowns have been really challenging for our LGBTIQA+ youth. Safe spaces are really important for young queer people, they are a place of escapism, community, allyship and support. With the lockdowns in place on and off over the last 18 months – these spaces have been taken away and it can be really isolating and challenging.
What are some of the best ways allies can support the community?
People have this idea that an ally solely protects, and that means shutting down conversations and safeguarding people in order to avoid conflict or negative actions – when in reality a true ally does the work. They educate themselves, research and actively support the community. They start the conversation and keep it going so that people can grow, learn and champion.
This year you’ve partnered with Wear it Purple Day. What does being an ambassador of a cause mean to you?
It means so much to me because it’s being part of that visibility in the mainstream. I’m so lucky to have the platform that I do and it brings me so much joy to be able to use that to spread the word about Wear it Purple. I will always continue to strive to be the person that I wish I could have looked up to as a kid.
What does the day mean to you personally?
Wear it Purple has a very special place in my heart as it was created while I was still in high school. That year I found out about it and spent the night before making lots of little purple badges that I could hand out amongst my friends. It was the first chance I could really tell people I was gay and a way for my friends to show they supported me, the ugly duckling was now a swan!
What words of advice do you have for young LGBTQIA+ people?
It sounds lame but it’s really true and that is to be yourself. You are special, you are unique, you are you. There is never going to be anyone like you and you need to cherish all your differences. The sooner you learn to champion your individuality, the sooner you will flourish.