Wear It Purple Day 2022

26 Aug 2022

We speak to Lee, a social worker and case manager at Turning Point and proud queer, non-binary trans person, on the importance of Wear It Purple Day.

still Human

Who are you?

I’m Lee, I’m 31 years old, I’m a social worker and case manager at Turning Point and I am a proud and passionate queer, non-binary trans person.

I live and work on the Wurundjeri land of the Kulin nation and acknowledge that sovereignty has never been ceded. I use gender neutral pronouns to refer to myself (they/them).

What is Wear It Purple Day?

Wear It Purple Day (WIPD) was founded in 2010 in response to a number of young people dying by suicide following bullying and harassment in regards to their identity.

It’s a yearly awareness and visibility campaign that gives a platform for organisations to demonstrate their commitment to improving the lives of LGBTQIA+ people who work and attend their organisations. It’s a day to acknowledge how far we’ve come and to talk about what work we still need to do.

I find that organisations, including us in healthcare, embrace WIPD as an opportunity to celebrate, but what is often missed is the opportunity to discuss what work still needs to be done to promote the wellbeing and inclusion of LGBTQIA+ people.

What do we need to do?

Many people believe that now we have marriage equality that equality has been achieved. People can assume the work has been done; homosexuality is now decriminalised, that the plebiscite is over and surely LGBTQIA+ people are getting along fine.

This type of thinking provides a barrier, a reason for organisations to put their feet up and rest, thinking there is nothing left to be done in regards to LGBTQIA+ health outcomes, including in the alcohol and other drug (AOD) sector.

Assuming ‘things are fine’ for the LGBTQIA+ community after the plebiscite is like thinking just because someone has cut down their alcohol use, we shouldn’t bother talking to them about their mental health.

We can always do better and we have to keep striving for change.

What does Wear It Purple Day mean to the alcohol and other drug sector?

Our sector needs to be safer and more accessible to LGBTQIA+ people. We need to support the mental health of this community, which is statistically extremely poor.

This means supporting trans people to feel safe in detox units and recovery groups. Prioritising service-wide education that brings up our collective baseline of knowledge as clinicians. Knowing how to respond when someone you are working with is choosing to come out to you. Not being afraid to ask questions and being prepared to get it wrong. Apologising and moving on when we make mistakes with pronouns. Remembering that it isn’t about you.

And remembering that a rainbow sticker on a window to a service isn’t enough. It’s about what happens when people walk through the doors.

What does Wear It Purple Day mean to you?

A day like this represents an opportunity­ — to be seen, heard, to share. To be asked questions. To find more allies in my network of colleagues. To be celebrated! And an opportunity to dress up of course — a queer stereotype I have no problem reinforcing.