In April of 2019, Gabrielle Union-Wade was seen with her stepson Zion at Miami’s Pride Parade, which subsequently spurred some backlash on social media. Because of Union-Wade’s marriage to NBA Star Dwyane Wade, criticism then shifted towards Wade himself. “We support each other with wide Pride!” Wade wrote on Instagram.
Later in June, Wade elaborated on this in a sit-down interview with Variety Magazine. “I think, as a family, we should support each other. That’s our job.” he said. “And my job as a father is to facilitate their lives and to support them and be behind them in whatever they want to do.”
Our society subconsciously paints a negative image of black men. This is especially true when it comes to black fathers and how they’re portrayed in media. They’re portrayed as incompetent, abusive or emotionally distant from their family.
Dre Johnson from the show “black-ish” is always at the receiving end of ridicule from his colleagues and family members. Julius from “Everybody Hates Chris” was a miser and emotionally distant towards his children. The “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” episode where Will meets his father, only for him to see his dad’s selfish and irresponsible behavior illustrates this perfectly.
Entertainment is one of the few industries where black people are largely represented. Black men in particular, have dominated the field of sports, as it is one of the few outlets where we can express our masculinity without scrutiny. Black athletes especially occupy an interesting space in society; they range from being social influencers, thought-leaders and cult-like figures.
In Wade’s case, he was the man who had everything. He was a great player who achieved tremendous success in his career and is universally beloved by his peers. Basketball career aside, he is still a family-oriented person.
Wade’s detractors assert that his son’s orientation is indicative of his failure as a father. Not because Wade neglected to teach his son ethics, nor is it because he failed in providing a good life for him, but because he didn’t reinforce played-out standards for how a man should act.
Fatherhood is about preparing your child to face a world full of adversity. Instilling a sense of self in them is part of that. Wade is raising Zion to be the best person he can be and sexuality is irrelevant when it comes to what makes a good man. Your ethics, conduct and how you treat people are what matters.