NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Thursday is Spirit Day, a day to raise awareness of bullying against members of the LGBTQ youth community.

Spirit Day has become a worldwide phenomenon, with celebrities, offices and even newsrooms like CBS2’s choosing to wear purple.

The support is particularly touching for workers at a LGBTQ drop-in center in the Bronx, who say it was brutal growing up as children.

“A lot of name calling. Some days I didn’t want to continue sports,” one person said.

“Same thing: Bullying, getting jumped because they were game,” another said.

The idea of Spirit Day began 10 years ago, when a number of young, gay students died by suicide after being bullied. Among them was Rutgers student Tyler Clementi.

David William understands the pain too well. He contemplated taking his own life in high school

“Your fellow schoolmates teasing you. It just piles up year after year, time after time, and at any given moment you can explode,” William told CBS2’s Christina Fan.

LGBTQ advocacy groups say cases of bullying have only increased, not decreased in recent years. Studies show 70 percent of LGBTQ students reported being verbally abused.

“Unfortunately, only 53 percent of those report doing anything about it, because they are worrying that reporting it will have negative consequences, or nothing at all will be done,” said Zeke Stokes of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

Singers, actresses and even presidential candidates sent messages of encouragement, writing to show LGBTQ kids they are not alone.

“It’s really important for young LGBTQ students to see candidates running for the highest office in the land standing up for them,” Stokes said.

An army of support with more strength and the weakness shown by bullies.


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