NBA legend and philanthropist Earvin “Magic” Johnson sat down in an interview with Anderson Cooper. According to CNN on November 19, Johnson opened up about two important issues in his life, HIV education and his support for his gay son.
Johnson, who shocked the nation 22 years ago when he announced that he was HIV positive, believes that he is both “the blessing and the curse of HIV”. His announcement opened eyes and advanced communication about HIV/AIDS, but he confesses that because he is still in good health, people may not fear HIV as they once did.
“I’m the blessing because people were talking about it, they ran out and got tested at that time. Then I’m the curse because…people now way, oh well, HIV is nothing because if I get it I can be like Magic. He’s doing good, and I can do the same thing he’s doing or take the same medicine he’s taking and I’ll be okay.”
Part of Johnson’s health include, first of all, affording the medication and he still has to take three pills a day which is a decrease from the 15 pills he had to take three times a day when he first came out. Another factor is that he caught it in time by getting tested. In the African American and Latino communities, where HIV infections are high amongst gay men, Johnson believes education starts with the support of family.
Black and Latino men are afraid to come out both because of their fear of family rejection and the religious impact. This leads to “down low” behavior which in turn correlates to the high HIV infection rates. That’s why Johnson is advocating support and expresses his love for his own gay son who came out publicly just a few months ago.
“Just like my son E.J. came out, it was important that Cookie and I support our son. We love our son, we’re going to support him 150 percent, but we’re one of the minorities in this. In the black community, young gay men or young ladies who are lesbians, they’re afraid to tell their parents.”
He also believes his son coming out has helped save lives because it showed that parental support is possible and necessary. He understands that life out there will be tough for E.J. and therefore has asked the gay community for their help as well.
“What I wanted the gay community to do for me is help my son, right – give him the right information, help him to grow and be a good young man. Things I can’t talk about, that I don’t know about, they can help him.”
Magic Johnson is saying that gay youth need support from two types of family. The one they are born into and the one that will help them grow. In a way, both can be one of the same.