Retired NBA star Dwayne Wade opened up about supporting his LGBTQ child Zion in a recent episode of sports podcast “All The Smoke.”
“I’ve watched my son, from day one, become into who she now eventually has come into,” he said. “Nothing changes with my love, nothing changes with my responsibilities.”
The former Miami Heat player has previously spoken out in support of his 12-year-old, but Thursday’s interview was perhaps the first time he publicly referred to Zion using both male and female pronouns.
Wade did not specify his child’s gender identity or sexual orientation, saying that would be his child’s message to share with the world, though he did speak of Zion as being part of the LGBTQ community.
“I had to look myself in the mirror and say, ‘What if your son comes home and tells you he’s gay? What are you going to do?’” he said. “We want them to be whoever they feel they can be in this world; that’s our goal.”
During the “All The Smoke” interview, Wade also talked about his experience facing cyberbullying over his embrace of his child.
“While you’re trying to go down that process, this is what’s going to come at you,” he said. “It’s going to be a lot of negativity, it’s going to be a lot of hate. And it’s not even for my son’s sexuality, it’s about being a young black man.”
“One thing I gotta do now is get smarter and educate myself more,” Wade said.
Wade and his wife, actress Gabrielle Union, have been speaking out in support of Zion and LGBTQ inclusivity more broadly since at least April, when Union and the couple’s children appeared at the Miami Beach Pride. After the family (minus Wade, who was in Toronto for a basketball game) appeared on a float at the annual event, he wrote on Instagram: “We support each other with Pride.”
Wade and Union contributed $50,000 to the LGBTQ youth group GLSEN in September and raised additional funds by selling $35 pride T-shirts through their social media platforms.
“GLSEN is honored and humbled by the Wade Family’s gift, and so tremendously grateful for their support in the hard work ahead to ensure that all LGBTQ students and youth feel safe, accepted, and included at school,” Eliza Byard, executive director of GLSEN, wrote at the time.
In November, Wade also fiercely defended his family after people criticized a Thanksgiving photo shared by Union that showed Zion in a crop top with long painted fingernails.
"Stupidity," Wade wrote, is a part of "this world we live in — so I get it."
"But here’s the thing — I’ve been chosen to lead my family not y’all. So we will continue to be us and support each other with pride, love & a smile!"
Following his most recent interview, LGBTQ advocates cheered Wade’s approach to sharing the experience of his family.
"I’m constantly impressed by how @DwyaneWade + @itsgabrielleu set a powerful example for how Black parents listen to and respect their children’s experiences and identities,” Out magazine Executive Editor Raquel Willis wrote on Twitter. “They remind us of the importance of elevating the stories of affirming families in our community.”
Presidential hopeful Julián Castro called Wade an "inspiration" for "using his platform to make the world a safer and better place."
"His unconditional love for Zion will give other parents the courage to love and respect their children for who they truly are," Castro wrote on Twitter.
For others, words escaped them: Angelica Ross, a trans advocate, tech entrepreneur and actor on the hit FX drama “Pose,” replied to a clip of Wade’s interview with a GIF of a woman dabbing tears from her eyes.