Millions around the world are expected to wear purple or change their Facebook profile image to purple on Thursday 20 October, dubbed Spirit Day, to show support for bullied LGBT youth.

Spirit Day was started last year by Canadian teenager Brittany McMillan in honour of LGBT teens who committed suicide due to anti-gay bullying. The concept caught on and the day is now being marked by individuals, corporations and organisations.

The colour purple, which symbolises spirit on the gay rainbow flag, was chosen by McMillan as the colour used to show support for the day, observed annually on October 20.

Participants are asked to “go purple” – either by wearing purple or changing their profile pictures on social network sites to purple.

Stars such as Ricky Martin, Cyndi Lauper and Julianne Moore have pledged to “go purple”, while American organisations such as the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), Human Rights Campaign, PFLAG and The Trevor Project will support the day.

Companies including American Airlines, AT&T, Facebook, Goldman Sachs, Hewlett-Packard, MTV, NBCUniversal, Nielsen, PepsiCo, Verizon, Viacom and Yahoo! will also participate.

Participating companies are expected to reach millions by distributing information to employees about wearing purple. Some have also pledged to turn their logos purple for the day.

MTV in the US will be turning its on-air logo purple while the giant screen in Times Square and the LAX Gateway lights at Los Angeles International Airport will be lit purple for Spirit Day.

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