Magic Johnson's Son Is Gay: So What?
On November 7, 1991, basketball legend Earvin "Magic" Johnson approached a microphone, took a deep breath and stunned the world by announcing that he had been diagnosed with HIV and was retiring from the Los Angeles Lakers. At the time HIV/AIDS was deemed a gay white man's disease, but with Magic's diagnosis it became apparent that the virus could attack anyone, no matter their sexual orientation. Magic had contracted the virus as a result of unprotected sex with women in the 1980s. As the crowd of reporters listened to Magic describe his ordeal, he was calm, determined and upbeat: "This is another challenge in my life. It's like your back is against the wall. And you have to come out swinging. And I'm swinging. I'm going to go on. I'm going to beat this, and I'm going to have fun." For over 20 years Magic Johnson has lived his life, loved his family and faced the HIV/AIDS virus with dignity, determination and positivity. Since coming out with his diagnosis, Magic has worked countless hours promoting HIV awareness, raising money for research and openly supporting the gay community.
At the time of Magic's big announcement his wife Cookie was just two months pregnant with their son E.J. Both Cookie and E.J. were tested for the HIV virus and both tested negative. E.J. was born healthy and now at 20 years old has come out that he is gay. While the recent public "outing" is not new to Magic and his family, it is new to the general public and has created a big "buzz" in Hollywood and around the world. E.J. was recently spotted walking down the street holding the hand of his apparent boyfriend; once again the Johnsons are making headlines everywhere! Surprise, Magic Johnson has a gay son.
As the parent of a gay child (adult), I know how difficult it was for me to come out, but now that I have, I find myself wondering why it is that homosexuality is the defining label. Not wanting to sound like I am talking out of both sides of my mouth, I admit that I have used this "label" as a means of awareness in the past year, but each time I hear someone described as gay I wonder if that is the only adjective available to describe them. Quite often we label people as gay, straight, black, white, fat, skinny, etc. when we really should not be labeling them at all. As I have worked through my initial shock and less than desirable reaction to my own daughter's coming out, I find myself looking at her now and seeing a beautiful young woman who is approaching her twentieth birthday and happens to be in a relationship with an equally beautiful young woman who has become part of our family. They love each other and are committed to their relationship; they are happy. If I were asked to describe either one of them, I doubt that I would put their sexual orientation at the top of the list. That label doesn't seem to be as important as it used to be. There are so many more ways to describe "my girls" than to tie them down with one defining word, especially one word that does not define them at all.
As I read numerous articles about Magic Johnson and his family's support for his son, my respect for him strengthened. Johnson says he has known about E.J.'s sexuality for years and has loved and supported him unconditionally. He has never let E.J.'s sexuality define who his son is. Magic said, "I love E.J. so much, that's my main man. I think he really wanted to be out. But he was torn. ... He just didn't know how. He just said, 'This is my moment. This is my time. I'm happy to share with the world who I am'. And I said, 'Go, E.J., go.' This is a good moment for us as a family, and a greater moment for him. Now he's just the bubbly kid we knew again," he added. "I'm behind him a million percent. This is really wonderful for him," explained Magic.
I think that the time has come to stop labeling people and focusing on a bigger picture. I wonder how many times we look at a straight couple holding hands standing in line at the grocery store and immediately think about their sex life. So why is it that when we see two men or two women holding hands, we allow our minds to immediately go to the sexual element of the relationship? As a straight married woman, my life is not defined by the intimate element in my relationship with my husband. Sex is, and should be, an important part of the relationship, but is not the defining factor. We need to look beyond sexuality and focus more on one's contribution to society instead. While I am sure that homosexuality will always create a great debate, my hope is that one day society can put the label aside and focus on more important issues such as poverty, abuse, childhood hunger, world peace…you know, the really important things in life.