In honor of Spirit Day and supporting LGBTQ people every day, we are committed to creating an environment where our all people feel safe, respected, and valued.
Read Harrison Thompson’s heartfelt letter to his daughter detailing his experience being bullied, coming out, and advice we can share to stand with our youth.
Harrison Thompson, Global Marketing Manager works at the Bloomberg Headquarters in New York. He is also a proud member of the LGBT & Ally Community at Bloomberg.
A letter to my daughter:
It’s not easy for me to be open with my emotions. My life has been filled with joy, disappointment, and love, causing me to put up walls to protect what I have. But you have come along and allowed me to slowly dismantle the walls.
Some of those walls were built at an early age when I was bullied during my junior year in high school. The bully started as a friend during my freshman year, but something changed over the course of two years where he became my nemesis. It started with him bumping into me in the hallway, causing my books to fall and kicking my feet as I walked. It got progressively worse when he enlisted his friends to call me names when I walked by or physically intimidate me as I waited for the school bus.
The bullying went on for a year. During that time, I fell into a deep depression. I pulled away from my mum and other friends, terrified that they would find out I was gay. In the 80’s and growing up in Texas, the thought of coming out was not an option.
To cope with my isolation, I found solace in perfecting other parts of my life—winning awards on the speech and debate team, working a part time job to supplement my shopping habit, reading comics, daydreaming about living in New York and writing poetry. As busy as my mom was with work, going to church and raising a family, she did notice that I was acting differently. Doing what most moms do best, she snooped in my room and found my journal.
I am not sure of the exact date when the bullying stopped, but I did notice a change at school. Years later when I came out to the rest of my family and friends, I discovered that my mom had gone to the school to make it known to the principal that the bullying would end that day.
If I had the strength to move mountains for you and protect you from what life will place at your feet, I would. But I am not so naive to believe that I can protect you from everything.
My hope in sharing this story with you is to show you when you think the entire world is against you, I want to remind you it’s not. You have me and your Papa. I also hope that my story will act as a roadmap that provides a few lessons to help you along your journey as you discover your own joy, disappointments, and love. This is my offering to you.
Have courage. “You know I am proud of you and I love you, right?” These are the words your great grandfather said to me when I told him I am gay. I am not sure he knew how powerful these words were to me. Your great grandfather was tall, straight to point and not the cuddliest kind of grandfather. His question of affirmation has given me the strength to step up and take on what life presents to me. Please know that since you were born, I am proud of you and I love you.
Be Creative. Beauty fades, but creativity and thoughtful design will last your lifetime. Take the time to stretch yourself to enjoy art, travel, play a musical instrument, and meet people who don’t look like you to help inspire your creativity. If you go outside your comfort zone, you will discover a new world.
Forgive. Learn to forgive the people who let you down. It’s not easy but don’t let the negative energy overwhelm you and become a hurdle. I have had to forgive family, friends, former friends and bullies so I can move on with my life. You also have to learn to forgive yourself and apologize to the people you have hurt. Do not waste your time relitigating the past. Life is too short. Forgive, learn and grow.
Cherish friends. Friends are the family you choose. They are the ones who will be honest with you, pull you back from the brink and tell you when you are wrong. Choose your friends wisely and understand that some friends will be with you for a season and some will be by your side for a lifetime.
Work hard. While I would love to spoil you, I will try hard not to. There is a feeling of independence knowing that you can provide for yourself and not be beholden to any man or woman for your survival.
Crown yourself. I invited your great grandmother to see Tina Turner in concert. We were having dinner before the concert and a young lady complimented your great grandmother on a ring she was wearing that she had purchased for herself. Without hesitation, your great grandmother said, “Sometimes in life, you have to crown yourself.” Remember to love yourself and put yourself first. You are no good to anyone if you don’t love yourself.
Fall in love. Don’t be afraid to fall in love. It’s an amazing feeling to allow yourself to find the good in people. With love, fear falls to the side. With love, insecurities fall to the side. Before you were born, I did not think I had room in my heart to love, but you came along to stretch my heart.
About Spirit Day
Spirit Day is a means of speaking out against LGBTQ bullying and standing with LGBTQ youth, who disproportionately face bullying and harassment because of their identities. Spirit Day is observed the third Thursday in October, the GLAAD organization honors this day by wearing purple. Read more about GLAAD and their efforts here.
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