Professional athletes using their platforms to stand up for a cause they believe in has become a growing trend. Pistons forward Reggie Bullock is one of those athletes. He is using the stage basketball has given him to stand up for the LGBTQ community. His inspiration for standing up: his late sister Mia Henderson.
"It’s something that’s close to me obviously because one of my siblings was murdered in a tragic killing in Baltimore, Maryland, but I mean I got involved with it because I wanted to be standing up for something for her," explains Bullock.
In 2014, (the summer before bullock was traded to the Pistons) his sister — who was born Kevin Long — was brutally murdered. In the years since her death, Bullock has tried to spread her positive spirit and become an ally to the community.
"Mia was a loving person, very happy, always cared for her siblings. Was always in it to win it for any one of her siblings. She stood for greatness, she always supported me and my basketball career, always wanted me to do well. She was the backbone of the family and when she passed away it was something for me to take ownership in and just stand up for my sister," says Bullock.
Looking back at her life, Bullock admits he didn't’t understand when his brother made the decision to live as a woman. He wasn’t fully educated about what she as going through. That’s why he’s trying to spread the word.
"When my sibling was living, I would say as a family we probably didn’t know everything we needed to know of exactly what she was going through. Just bringing that awareness to me, I’m still learning, I still don’t know it all, but it’s obviously something I just want to continue to stand up for and be a part of because I feel like every person should be able to be their own person and be comfortable in their own skin and my sibling, my sister lived that way, and that’s what she taught me…and I just…stand up for it," Bullock says.
Unfortunately Bullock knows all too well that there are many kids and young adults out there who don’t feel comfortable in their own skin. He wants that to change.
"That’s something that I definitely want to be a part of and bring awareness to for Spirit Day is wanting to stop the bullying and stop the things that goes on within these young kids lives that choose a life path that they want to live, and just bring awareness to the other people that don’t know much about this community."
Bullock emphasized that education is key to addressing the issue of bullying within LGBTQ community. He says people are less likely to attack, and more likely to be supportive when they have a better understanding.
He knows there are still too many kids and young adults out there that -- unlike Mia -- don't feel comfortable being who they are.
"My message for them is continue to live your life the way that you want to live it. Don’t let anyone tell you what you can and can’t do. Continue to strive for greatness and continue to love your family and love the close ones to you because those are the ones that are going to be supporting you and not worrying about what other people say."
Spirit Day is an event founded by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation or GLAAD. They’re encouraging people to wear purple this Thursday, Oct. 19 to show solidarity with LGBTQ youth and take a visible stand against bullying. For more information, visit their website.