Even though we’re nearing 2020, it’s astonishing to see parents who still don’t accept their children’s gender identity and sexual orientation. On Showtime’s All the Smoke podcast, former Miami Heat basketball player, Dwyane Wade, spoke about how he supports both the sexuality and gender identity/presentation of his 12-year-old, Zion Malachi Airamis. “I watched my son, from day one, become into who she now eventually come into,” Wade said matter-of-factly, referring to Zion as both “son” and “she.”
Wade also stressed how important it is to love your kids no matter what — and learn about what your child needs to be their true self. “And for me… nothing changes in my love,” Wade added. “Nothing changes in my responsibilities. So, all I had to do now is get smarter, educate myself more. And that’s my job,” he says.
And of course, kids can educate us plenty. “First of all, you want to talk about strength and courage? My 12-year-old has way more than I have. You can learn something from your kids,” the father of four adds.
Wade knows that people can be prejudiced towards other’s differences. After his wife, Gabrielle Union, posted a photo of Zion wearing a crop top and long painted nails over Thanksgiving, their family received hateful messages. “All these people that’s out there saying these things, look at yourself. Understand that you’re the one that’s got the issues. You’re the one that’s got the problem. It’s not the kids, it’s not the ones who decide, ‘Yeah, you born a certain way, you gotta be that way.’”
I’ve seen some post-thanksgiving hate on social about my family photo. Stupidity is apart 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! ✌🏾
— DWade (@DwyaneWade) November 30, 2019
Still, Wade and his ex-wife had open conversations when Zion was 3 years old about how to react if he were to tell them he was gay. “Me and my wife are having conversations about, you know, us noticing that, you know, [Zion] wasn’t on the boy vibe that Zaire was on. And I had to look myself in the mirror and say, ‘What if your son comes home and tell you he’s gay? What are you going to do? How are you going to be? How are you going to act?’ It ain’t about him. He knows who he is. It’s about you. Who are you?”
“You want your kids to be free and living their lives. And I don’t care what you want to do from this standpoint. If you want to play a sport, then play a sport. You don’t have to be like me. Play your sport and be yourself,” he said
Because he understands that all his children are different, he parents each of them differently.
“Ultimately, you’re gonna do what’s best for your kids and I gotta tell my boys, ‘We learn on the fly, we learn together. I’mma learn how to parent you guys about how you guys are. I’m not gonna parent you the same, you’re not the same.’ And [I] don’t expect that. I try to parent each of my kids differently. I support them differently. And so far, it’s working,” Wade concludes on the podcast.
Of course, plenty of people will probably continue to assume that Wade wants his children to play sports and follow in his footsteps. But, spoiler: All he really cares about is if his children are happy and being themselves. And isn’t that what every parent wants?