Poe’s Perspective: Wade may be a better father than a player

first_imgWade’s 11-year-old son Zion walked in the Miami Beach pride parade over the weekend, decked out in bright yellow and a rainbow unicorn horn. He was accompanied by Wade’s wife Gabrielle Union and his older brother Zaire, who was seen dancing throughout the parade in a rainbow headband. Yeah, he dropped 30 points in his final home game in Miami, but I don’t care about that. What I care about is the statement that Wade made this week, even amid the hype of his retirement, about the importance of showing love and support to his son. In the middle of a sea of Dwyane Wade praise this week, I’m going to try to skirt around the obvious topic of his retirement and focus on perhaps the greatest thing he’s done in the last seven days. There are plenty of ways that parents of LGBTQ+ children mute their kids’ identities. There are parents who refuse to let their children buy the clothes, wear the makeup, listen to the music, join the school clubs and watch the TV shows they love. There are parents who ignore it, hoping that silence might help make the truth go away. There are parents who say their child is too young and naive to have any idea what their sexuality might be or what their future might hold. But what I wish I could tell him instead is that his retirement will usher in the most important part of his life — the part where he gets to be a parent, first, every day. For those who aren’t LGBTQ+, it might be difficult to understand the full depth of the impact these actions have on Zion’s identity. Sure, everyone understands that it is amazing and important that Wade has acknowledged and accepted his son’s identity. It’s a vital example of a young child coming out to his father and not facing discrimination, intolerance or hate. There have been plenty of rumors surrounding Zion’s identity for some time now. Last month, he walked the runway in Wade’s charity fashion show, which was met with a flurry of criticism and speculation on social media when Wade shared a clip of it on his Instagram. But there is only one part of that video that really mattered — Union on her feet, shouting and hollering the entire time that Zion strutted, struck a pose and sashayed away, and Wade right next to her, cheering and proudly sharing a clip of his son “killin’ it” on the runway. I’m not an NBA fan, so I’m not the right person to write about Wade as a basketball player. I know that he’s a legend and that his presence will be sorely missed in the NBA. I know that what he’s done for the game is going to live on long past the end of his career. I’m sure it won’t be perfect. It’s hard to be a celebrity parent and even harder to be the celebrity parent of an LGBTQ+ son who has to come out under public scrutiny. None of that will be easy for Wade. But so far, I have to say, he’s getting everything right.center_img Due to a pair of road games, Wade wasn’t able to attend the parade, but that didn’t stop him from showing support for his son. Throughout the day, Wade posted pictures of his entire family accompanied with loving captions like, “We support each other with Pride” and “It’s a family thing.” Wade is effectively doing what every parent hopes to do — he’s getting rid of the fear in his son’s life. He’s taking care of the monster hiding under the bed or, pardon the pun, in the closet. He certainly can’t remove homophobia or bigotry from Zion’s life, and at some point — if he hasn’t already — he will be forced to face a moment when he can’t shield his son from the hate of the world. When most people consider the “bad” parent of an LGBTQ+ child, they think of violence. Parents who beat their children, who kill their children, who throw them out on the street or ship them away to camps. These are the parents who come to mind, of course, but this proclivity toward labeling “bad” parents as the violent and hateful ones often excludes the much wider swath of parents who damage their children simply by not accepting them. But Wade is doing the most any parent can. He’s giving his son a safe place to rely on, a set of arms to always fall into and the guarantee that no matter how mean and horrible the world becomes, he will always have love to come home to at the end of the day. And then, at the other end of the spectrum, there’s Dwyane Wade, putting his kid in a rainbow unicorn horn and telling the whole world that he’s proud of his son’s identity. Not despite his gayness, but because of it, because that part of his son’s identity makes him the whole human being that he is today. Words can’t describe what these choices will do for Zion. Most LGBTQ+ kids grow up feeling scared either on some level or all the time. Scared that someone will find out. Julia Poe is a senior writing about her personal connection to sports. Her column, “Poe’s Perspective,” runs weekly on Thursdays.last_img read more

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