Opinion: Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade Supporting Their Son Zion at Pride Is The Example We All Need

Opinion: Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade Supporting Their Son Zion at Pride Is The Example We All Need

There was an unmistakable sense of joy on the face of 11-year-old Zion Wade, the son of Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade, last weekend at the 11th annual Miami Beach Pride parade. His expression was the kind you see on someone who is completely surrounded by unwavering love. In this case, a smiling Zion was joined by his stepmom, actress and advocate Gabrielle Union, plus his 17-year-old older brother Zaire Blessing Dwyane, his five-month-old sister, Kaavia James, and other loved ones at the event, which yearly celebrates “proud South Florida LGBTQ families, friends, co-workers and allies.”

Dwyane Wade could not be in attendance because he was playing in a Miami Heat game against the Raptors in Toronto—but that didn’t stop him from supporting his son. The shooting guard used social media to affirm Zion’s identity. “We support each other with Pride!” Wade declared on Instagram, adding, “Zion had his [own] cheering section today. Wish I was there to see you smile, kid!”

Likewise, Union reportedly led that “cheering section” for Zion throughout the day, while Zaire also showed support for his little brother online, captioning an Instagram photo of them together: “Love you bro, no matter what. Gotcha back, kid. Support gang!”

As a writer, I have long made it clear that I do not buy into the notion that Black people are more homophobic than the masses. Still, I do appreciate Dwyane Wade, Gabrielle Union, and their family showing the world what a loving and queer-affirming Black family looks like. We need to see more images like these. It makes us all better.

It sends an incredibly important message to see a young Black man receive the kind of support of every queer child needs in order to face a world in which queer identity remains a point of contention for far too many.

Just last month, the Wade family—and in particular, Dwyane Wade—received criticism after Zion walked the runway at his A Night on the Runwade event. If you see the clip (which features Union’s excited narration: “Go Zion! Yassss! Go Z!”), there really isn’t much to quibble over. But the “concern” is a testament to the reality that many still find something wrong with homosexuality—with queerness, with men and young boys expressing any trait that registers as “feminine” no matter their orientation.

Since, I’ve seen online comments decrying Zion Wade’s appearance at the Miami Beach Pride parade, and the support of his parents and family members.

I’ll spare you too many more details, but generally speaking, the umbrage is centered on his age and the presumption that there is no way he can know his sexuality so young. That, or the critics assign some kind of perverse meaning to the fact that he has that understanding at his age, stripping his awareness of its innocence. Isn’t it interesting, though, how a toddler-aged boy can be described as a “heartbreaker” and no one ever makes much of a fuss?

Isn’t it also funny how people can forget their own childhood crushes? Meanwhile, adults can speculate on the sexuality of a child along with their classmates and bully them as a result of it— yet somehow the queer child in question can’t know themselves first.

It’s silly. It’s juvenile. We are better than that, or at the very least, we should be.

Alas, we aren’t, which is why I am glad Zion knows that he is grounded in the support of his family. His family’s support may not absolve Zion from the dangers of ignorance and the rising anti-LGBTQ violence in this country. But to be that young and to have the total support of your parents and your siblings is something so beautiful, it should not be anything but celebrated.

Admittedly, I am a bit envious of Zion for that reason. I wish I’d had that kind of support, particularly around the age when tears of frustration would roll down my face because no matter how hard I tried, I wasn’t like the other boys around me and I knew many—family included—sensed that and resented me for it.

And for others in our community, it’s even worse. There are parents who beat their gay children; send them to camps to be electrocuted; throw them out of their homes and into an ecosystem of poverty and despair; or if nothing else, completely ice them out. There are even some of us who are well into adulthood and still cannot tell our parents about someone we met that makes us happy. And some of us will likely never get to.

For many queer people, we learn far too soon that love can, indeed, be conditional and incredibly complicated. But Zion is fortunate in that he knows—as a child!—that he is loved, cherished, and most of all, accepted.

More than anything, I’m elated to know that, thanks to his family, Zion just gets to be himself without worry or fear of condemnation. He just gets to be. We should all be so lucky—or, at the very least, happy for any person in the LGBTQ community who is blessed with such an opportunity.

[This piece was originally published on Oprahmag.com]

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2 Comments

  1. Peskyme
    April 13, 14:02 Reply

    The heteros Just be hating.. it’s beautiful to see such support and love come from family

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