NBA legend and entrepreneur Magic Johnson has so much love for his son E.J., who came out in 2013.
In a 2017 appearance on “The Ellen Show”, Johnson talked about the moment E.J. (a rising star in his own right) came out to to him and his wife, Cookie. They had what can only be described as the ideal reaction: They supported their son from the get-go.
“When my son came out, I was so happy for him and happy for us as parents,” Johnson said. “And we love him. And E.J. is amazing.”
Ellen asked what advice Johnson would give other parents who find themselves in the same situation. His advice was spot-on.
“I think it’s all about you not trying to decide what your daughter or son should be, or what you want them to become,” he answered. “It’s all about loving them no matter who they are [or] what they decide to do.”
Family acceptance and support is important to all kids, but it’s vital for the health and well-being of LGBTQ youth.
“You gotta support your child,” Johnson wants parents to know. “It’s so many people who try to discriminate against them, so they need you to support them. ‘Cause if you don’t support ’em, who’s gonna support ’em and love ’em?”
There’s enough bigotry and discrimination in the world. No child deserves to hear it at home.
The data doesn’t lie: “LGBT young people whose parents and caregivers reject them or try to change them are at high risk for depression, substance abuse, suicide and HIV infection,” said Caitlin Ryan, faculty member at San Francisco State University and director of the Family Acceptance Project. “LGBT young people whose parents support them and stand up for them show much higher levels of self-esteem and greater well-being, with lower rates of health and mental health problems.”
If you’re a parent or family member supporting someone who just came out, you don’t have to go it alone.
Check out PFLAG for more information, including local meet-ups for parents and resources to build and foster safe communities. Groups like Parents for Transgender Equality, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), and Believe Out Loud are also great places to start.
Need more inspiration? See more of Magic Johnson’s appearance on “Ellen.”
This article originally appeared on 04.19.17