Along with providing unconditional love and support to their children, a parent's many duties also include a responsibility to get educated on how to best provide a child with the chance to be their best self. That's how one retired NBA player sees it, at least. Former Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade shared how he approaches parenting an LGBTQ child while discussing his 12-year-old daughter Zaya coming out as transgender during a recent appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
"Me and my wife Gabrielle Union, we are proud parents of a child in the LGBTQ+ community," Wade told Ellen DeGeneres. "And we are proud allies as well. We take our roles and our responsibility as parents very seriously."
According to Wade, part of that responsibility includes listening to, supporting, and advocating for their children, no matter the topic at hand. "When our child comes home with a question, when a child comes home with an issue, when a child comes home with anything, it’s our job as parents to listen to that, to give them the best information that we can, to give them the best feedback that we can — and that doesn’t change because sexuality is now involved in it," Wade said.
The former NBA player revealed that Zaya, originally named Zion at birth, recently came out as transgender, telling her family that "going forward, I am ready to live my truth." According to Wade, Zaya asked to be called Zaya and referenced with she and her pronouns.
Both Wade and Union took it upon themselves to get better educated so that they might best know how to support Zaya going forward. "Internally, now it's our job to go out and get information, to reach out to every relationship that we have," Wade told DeGeneres of his reaction to Zaya's coming out. "My wife reached out to everyone on the cast of Pose."
The FX drama Pose dives into the black and Latino LGBTQ and gender-nonconforming ballroom culture scene present in New York City in the 1980s and 1990s. Its cast and crew includes a number of LGBTQ and gender-nonconforming people, including five transgender actors. "We just tried to figure out as much information as we can to help our child be her best self," Wade said.
Wade and Union welcomed Kaavia, their first child together, in 2018. Wade has three additional children — Zaya, 18-year-old Zaire, and 6-year-old Xavier — from previous relationships.
On Tuesday's episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Wade went on to tell DeGeneres that he told Zaya she now had the chance to become a vocal leader. "I looked at her and said, 'You are a leader and this is our opportunity to allow you to be a voice,'" he said. "Right now it's through us because she's 12 years old, but eventually it will be through her."
This isn't the first time Wade has opened up about parenting an LGBTQ child. In a December interview All the Smoke, Wade told Matt Barnes that he'd first noticed his child "wasn't on the boy vibe" when she was 3 years old. That's when Wade said he took a good look at himself and ask himself what kind of person he was, something he encouraged other parents of LGBTQ children to do. "Understand that you the one that got the issues. You the one that got the problems," he said. "It’s not the kids. You decided that they born a certain way and they got to be that way. That's not life."
Wade went on to tell Barnes that his child's journey in coming out didn't change his love or responsibilities as a parent. "For me it's all about: Nothing changes with my love. Nothing changes with my responsibilities," he said. "Only thing I have to do now is get smarter and educate myself more. And that's my job."