Over this past weekend, Gabrielle Union and Dwayne Wade’s family attended Miami Pride in support of their 11-year-old son Zion.
My heart was so full when I saw the pictures, mainly because I was looking at a famous black family fully supporting their kid for who he was. And yes, it’s a big deal that it was a black family doing this. As beautiful as this moment was, the truth is that the world is a crappy place, and unfortunately, we can’t have nice things.
The pictures were quickly reposted to the black blog site The Shade Room. The comments I saw were abhorrent. One user wrote
“This is not about being a supportive parent, why is this okay? A child doesn’t know who they are at this age, we need to stop encouraging this.”
“He’s a little kid lol. There’s no way he knows about that lifestyle. Feels like he’s being forced to support something he knows nothing about.”
Yeah, it’s so terrible that Zion was “forced” to go to a parade that celebrates pride in yourself and the freedom to love.
There were countless comments like this and I eventually had to stop reading. It’s like these people looked passed the joy Zion had on his face and just attacked him and his family. Like they don’t care that LGBTQ youth commit suicides as a higher rate than their straight peers.
Most of the comments referred to the Bible or they used the stupid age-old argument that kids are too young to understand who they are. Zion in eleven, he’s at an age where he is self-aware of who he is. I was self-aware at that age and knew I liked boys. But no one ever questions straight kids and wonders if they’re too young to understand their sexuality.
What about parents who dress their toddler sons in shirts that say things like “lady’s man” or think it’s cute that their kids have little boyfriends and girlfriends in pre-school? Now, that’s weird.
Growing up, I sadly overheard comments about how disgusting and what an abomination homosexuality was. Even though I disagreed with them wholeheartedly, I didn’t argue against it because I didn’t want to seem disrespectful to my elders. I later found out why so many black people feel the way they do about gay people.
Homophobia in the black community is a touchy subject. During slavery, black men were subject to many rapes by their masters. Some were even forced to rape other slaves.
The support Gabrielle and Dwayne give Zion may not seem like such a big deal, but it is. I don’t understand how someone can look at these photos of a joyous family and think that Union and Wade were somehow doing more harm than good to Zion.
Luckily, many black millennials are shedding the toxic ideas of those that came before us. There were many comments on The Shade Room‘s post that told people to check their homophobic attitudes and ways.
Homophobic people and parents can learn a thing or two from Gabrielle and Dwayne. Because loving your kid unconditionally shouldn’t come with terms and conditions.
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Alysia Stevenson is a twenty-seven New York City transplant currently living in Florida with her boyfriend and three furbabies. When she’s not writing, you can find her watching beauty tutorials on Youtube or Parks and Rec for the millionth time.