Though he couldn’t be there in person, NBA player Dwyane Wade made sure his 11-year-old son Zion felt supported at the Miami Beach Pride parade on Sunday (7 April).
Wade, who plays for the Miami Heat, announced he’d be retiring after the 2018-19 season. It was his basketball career that kept him from joining in the Pride festivities, as he had a game in Toronto, but he posted his support on social media.
He first posted a photo on his Instagram stories of Zion and stepmom Gabrielle Union. Wayne captioned the post: ‘We support each other with Pride!’
Zion also attended with friends and his siblings, younger sister Kaavia and older brother Zaire, a 17-year-old basketball player who wants to follow in the footsteps of his father.
Wade posted another photo of Zion surrounded by his family and friends. He wrote on the photo: ‘Zion had his on [sic] cheering section today. Wish i was there to see you smile kid!’
Many people praised Wade’s support of his son attending an LGBTI pride event.
Dwayne Wade and Gabby Union supporting young Zion at Miami Pride is so beautiful, I could cry. I can’t imagine having had this type of support as a kid (or even young adult). Amazing example of living in and showing unconditional love 💕 pic.twitter.com/2cT8Ow6kik
— Câmi Thomas (@CamiCruzThomas) April 7, 2019
Seeing Dwayne Wade and Gabrielle Union support Zion at Miami Pride is just so beautiful! Parenting done right. Much love to them. So inspiring.
— Kaylah Raquel (@KaylahRaquel) April 7, 2019
The importance of parental support
Regardless of how Zion identifies, having the support of his parents, family, and friends in attending an event like Pride is crucial.
Numerous studies have shown that LGBTI youth are more at risk for mental health problems like suicide ideation and suicide attempts, as well as discrimination and bullying.
This is amplified more for LGBTI youth of color.
According to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, 71% of all victims of anti-LGBTI homicides in 2017 were people of color. Of these victims of color, a majority (60%) were black.
Black LGBTI people, especially men, are also at higher risks for being affected by HIV. They further face disproportionate amounts of harassment and experiences with police brutality and misconduct.