- NBA star Dwyane Wade opened up in a new interview about parenting his 12-year-old Zion Malachi Airamis, for the first time referred to his child using the “she” pronoun.
- Wade previously showed his support for Zion by sharing a photo of her at Miami Beach Pride on Instagram, writing “we support each other with pride.”
- This new interview comes just weeks after Wade fired back at trolls who criticized Zion’s appearance in a Thanksgiving family photo.
It wasn’t intended to be a big statement, yet it felt seismic to many when NBA player Dwyane Wade recently opened up about his relationship with his child, Zion, 12—and for the first time referred to using “she/her” pronouns.
The new interview took place during Wade’s sit-down with Showtime’s All the Smoke podcast on Thursday. And though Wade did not put any label on Zion’s gender identity, the topic became less opaque as a result of his simple shift in lexicon. “I’ve watched my son from day one become into who she now eventually has come into. And for me it’s all about…nothing changes with my love, nothing changes with my responsibilities. Only thing I have to do now is get smarter and educate myself more, and that’s my job.”
Dwyane Wade referring to his child Zion, 12, using she pronouns. "I've watched my son from day 1 become into who she now eventually has come into. Nothing changes w/ my love; nothing changes w/ my responsibilities. Only thing I got to do now is get smarter & educate myself more." pic.twitter.com/MeaOXL3cFk
— Ξvan Ross Katz (@evanrosskatz) December 19, 2019
This comes just weeks after Wade fired back at online trolls questioning Zion’s appearance in a Thanksgiving family photo. “I’ve been chosen to lead my family not y’all,” he tweeted at the time in response. “So we will continue to be us and support each other with pride, love & a smile!”
Though there were hints that Zion, 12, counted themselves among the LGBTQ community after an April appearance at the Miami Beach Pride march, this was the first interview in which Wade went into detail. And while some outlets, even prominent LGBTQ outlets, are or have in the past referred to Zion as gay, it’s important to note that Wade did not specify this or any other label within the LGBTQ+ acronym during the conversation.
“Well first of all, you want to talk about strength and courage? My 12-year-old has way more than I have,” Wade told All the Smoke co-hosts (and former NBA players): Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson. “You can learn something from your kids. In our household, that’s all we talk about; we talk about making sure our kids are seen by each of us. Me and my wife [Gabrielle Union], we talk about making sure our kids understand the power in their voice. We want them to be whoever they feel they can be in this world. That’s our goal: Understand you can be whoever, you can be whatever.”
Wade did not dismiss the reality of strife that comes for many black LGTBQ people. “There’s going to be negativity, it’s going to be a lot of hate. It’s not even just from my son’s sexuality, it’s just about being a young Black man and everything that comes with that,” he said.
He then addressed the Thanksgiving family photo brouhaha. “When I respond to things socially, I’m not responding because you’re hurting my feelings. I’m not responding because I care about what you’re saying, because as we say in the in the hood, it’s ‘ignant.’ Why I’m responding is because I understand my platform. I understand that I’m speaking for a lot of people don’t have the same voice that I have. As a father, I’m even speaking for my 12-year-old because I haven’t allowed them to sit in front of a microphone yet. But I’m speaking for so many others in the LGBTQ+ community. For me it’s just my version of supporting.”
Wade says he had to look himself in the mirror when he and his wife were noticing that at 3 years old, Zion “wasn’t on the boy vibe that [our son] Zaire was on.” “So I had to look myself in the mirror and say ‘What are you going to do 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?'”
In the end, Wade flipped the script, placing the incentive and burden not on LGBTQ+ for being themselves, but on those questioning their right to do so. “Understand that you you’re the one that got the issues,” he said. “You’re the one that got the problem; it’s not the kids. It’s not that you decided that they were born a certain way and they have to be that way… that’s not life man.”
Despite the critics, Wade has received a lot of support on social media.
“Unconditional love. Beautiful parenting. I just respect this man so much. Proud to know him. He’s always been the guy you want to be around,” wrote Andrew Zimmern on Twitter.
“More parents of queer and non-binary kids need to be like Dwayne Wade,” tweeted Alisha Grouso.
Perhaps most poignantly were the words of Franklin Leonard, who wrote on Twitter: “I hate that we live at a time when this is praiseworthy, because it should be the norm, but it’s 2019 and Dwyane Wade deserves tremendous praise both for this and for how utterly casual he is about it.”
I just respect this man so much. Proud to know him. He’s always been the guy you want to be around https://t.co/FlqjqPmmql
— Andrew Zimmern (@andrewzimmern) December 20, 2019
More parents of queer and non-binary kids need to be like Dwayne Wade. https://t.co/2a1NCoWKAO
— Alisha Grauso (@AlishaGrauso) December 20, 2019
I hate that we live at a time when this is praiseworthy, because it should be the norm, but it’s 2019 and @DwyaneWade deserves tremendous praise both for this and for how utterly casual he is about it. https://t.co/kKHlsqKr3d
— Franklin Leonard (@franklinleonard) December 20, 2019
You can watch the full interview below: