It shouldn’t be so stunning, but it is. The amount of love and acceptance pouring from Magic for his son and for all youth who may be struggling to come out is really remarkable, especially hearing him speak about having gay athletes in professional sports. It is well-documented that while many pro athletes would be supportive of a gay teammate, there’s a long way to go with others.
Magic first talks about when he and Cookie approached EJ — which wasn’t some kind of mission to get him to admit he was gay, but rather a concern for his well-being, especially in light of Magic’s own HIV diagnosis in 1991.
“I told [EJ], look, I’m gonna love you regardless, just let me know. Are you or aren’t you? And then finally he just said, ‘Yes, I am [gay].” says Magic. “I just took him through the birds and the bees talk — make sure you protect yourself, protect your partner. And also, think about what your friends and people are going to say when you tell them.”
“I told him we’re here to support you. We’re gonna love you no matter who you are or what you do. We just want you to love yourself and make sure that you have all the information. I wanted to provide him with advice and guidance,” says Magic.
He then laughs a little, recounting how EJ was so worried about his father’s reaction.
“He really wanted to make sure I was OK. He wasn’t worried about his mom, he was worried about me … I think he was worried about what would I think, am I gonna change toward him, or something like that,” says Magic. “I love EJ so much … I told him nothing has changed. I just want to help you along the way.
Later, interviewer Harvey Levin brings up the negative reaction to EJ’s coming out, citing some African-American blogs that criticized EJ and Magic.
“I don’t care who’s attacking my son, I’m gonna still support him, still love him. He’s a good kid, a good young man,” says Magic. “As I told him, once he comes out [publicly], expect some of this … in our community, we frown down on gays. It’s because of … we’re such involved in our church and our religion. Cookie and I go to church every Sunday, but this is our son. We’re going to love and support our son.”
“It bothers me that they’re discriminating against anybody who’s gay. I’ve been in the gay movement for a long time because of HIV and AIDS, so I see young men who are black who couldn’t come out … they were fearful of what would happen. So now, it’s my son,” he continues. “I’m hoping that they understand this is the year 2013 and we should stop discriminating against people and just support them … I think this is going to be good for a lot of black, young people who want to come out.”
The last portion of the interview is about athletes coming out, which Magic says he fully supports to. As part owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, he says he would support a gay player “150 percent.”
“As an owner, you really gotta support the person. And then help educate the public, that’s really important. ‘We stand with this player, we’re gonna support this player.'” says Magic.
“As I told EJ, this is going to be bigger than you. We can’t see it now, you’re not gonna know your impact, but you’re gonna have an impact. If a player ever wants to talk to me, whether he’s on the Dodgers or not, about coming out or life, my door’s always open … I’m a person who loves, who supports,” he continues.
“I think it’s gonna happen, for sure,” he concludes, about openly gay players in professional sports. “We’re inching closer to it. I just hope and pray we just give him support, or her support. Give that person support.”
At the end, Magic thanks TMZ for the interview, saying, “This was really important, an important message … [for] other young people who are struggling. This is touching a lot of people.”