"I'm going to love you regardless," said the former L.A. Laker and AIDS activist Magic Johnson to son EJ before asking him if he was gay or not, sensing his son's nervousness with coming out at the time. In an interview with TMZ, Johnson opens up about supporting EJ after his public outing when he was spotted on a night out in West Hollywood holding hands with his reported boyfriend.
Johnson and his wife Cookie knew "for a long time" that EJ was gay, but showed support when they felt ready to talk to him about it. Johnson explained it was a "hard conversation" because EJ was so young at the time, but told his son, "We are here to support you. We are gonna love no matter who you are, what you do. We just want you to love yourself and also make sure that you have all the information."
"I wanted to provide him with advice and guidance," Johnson added, who has worked with the LGBT community and been an advocate for safe sex practices since he announced his own HIV+ status in 1992.
Johnson further explained how EJ reacted, mimicking the sigh of relief his son made. "I love EJ so much. That's my main man. I told him, 'nothing has changed.'"
On TMZ's involvement with EJ coming out to the public, Johnson was grateful and said, "This was a moment for us as a family and an even greater moment for him. ... He's just happy that it is out. I'm behind him a million percent. This is really wonderful for him."
On the downside, EJ and the family have received negative backlash from African-American blogs.
Johnson said it is tough and "because what happens in our community, religion comes into play. ... 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. I've seen young men who are black who couldn't come out, who couldn't tell their parents, their neighbors ... So now, it's my son now and I'm hoping they understand this is the year 2013. We should stop discriminating against people and support them," Johnson argued.
"I think this is gonna be good for a lot of black young people who want to come out. [EJ] is going to be that symbol of hope." Johnson also talked about how his son's coming out could inspire professional athletes to follow suit.
Watch clips of the interview on TMZ.