Magic Johnson wants to encourage parents everywhere to love their children exactly as they are — and he’s starting by sharing his own moving story of acceptance.
Johnson recently appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, where the host asked the NBA Hall of Famer about his openly gay son, E.J. Johnson went on to share some heartwarming words about E.J., as well as the journey they’ve had together.
It was only after E.J. came out to his family in 2013 that Johnson says he learned what it truly meant to love your child unconditionally, and he shared the beautiful moment he and his wife Earlitha shared with their son after learning the news.
“When my son came out, I was so happy for him and happy for us as parents,” Johnson shared. “We love him. E.J. is amazing.”
Johnson also shared some words of wisdom for other parents of gay children, noting that the best thing you can do is to allow your kids to recognize who they are, and embrace that fully.
“It’s all about you not trying to decide what your daughter or son should be or what you want them to become,” Johnson shared. “It’s all about loving them no matter who they are or what they decide to do.”
Johnson also spoke about being a safe harbor of support for E.J., adding, “You’ve got to support your child, because there’s so many people who try to discriminate against them.”
This support, shared Johnson, can help strengthen a young person amidst the adversity they often face in being considered different.
“They need you to support them because if you don’t support them, who’s going to support them and love them?”
Johnson’s recent words echo previous statements he made back in 2013, when E.J. first came out. In an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Johnson discussed his Christian faith and how he balanced it with the knowledge of his son’s sexual identity. To the pastors and fellow Christians who expressed concerns about E.J., Johnson reminded them how much he has and always will stand by his son.
“Hey, I love my son, nothing is going to change that,” he told Cooper. “I don’t care if you don’t agree and you don’t want to deal with me or don’t like me. That’s on you.”
Johnson has been working with the gay community to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS since first announcing he was HIV positive back in 1991. When E.J. first came out, Johnson sought out support from those within the community he had already made connections with.
As he told Cooper:
“What I wanted the gay community to do for me is help my son — give him the right information, help him to grow and be a good young man. Things that I can’t talk about, that I don’t know about — they can help him.”
For Johnson, the most meaningful part of E.J. going public was how his own openness influenced many young people across the world to come out to their own parents. And E.J. continues to be an influence — the reality star and budding fashion icon discussed his aspirations in 2013 on the YouTube show Gwissues with Howard Bragman.
As for what it was like coming out to the public, E.J. explained that the timing was a bit early for him, but that he’s embraced it.
“I always had dreams and plans of doing my own thing and creating my own image,” he shared, “so it came a little sooner than I thought it would, but this is still something I knew I would be going through and would have to experience.”
It’s quite clear that E.J. loves his family just as much as they love him. And that love has helped the 24-year-old follow his dreams in a big way.
“I am very, very, very blessed to have the family that I do,” he told Bragman. “My parents have always been super supportive. When it was time to come out, I was, obviously, scared as most people are. After I got all the love and support from my family then I knew I could go out and conquer the world, I guess.”
Johnson and his son are both heartfelt examples of what it really means to love and accept others, no matter what. Talk about a truly inspiring family!