More than two decades after contracting HIV, the basketball legend-turned-activist sat down with Anderson Cooper on CNN's AC360 last week for a candid interview to address HIV, homosexuality in the African-American community, his gay son EJ, and the double-edge sword that has become his legacy.
Johnson, who uses the Magic Johnson Foundation to further his HIV/AIDS activism, spoke about his personal battle with the virus, and how his image as an HIV survivor may have shifted over time from a positive force driving education to that of a negative force inspiring complacency. Johnson, well aware of his star-power, referred to himself as "the blessing and the curse of HIV.” As he stated:
"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 say, 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 OK. But what they don't understand, in 22 years, millions of people have died."
When Cooper and Johnson discussed his son EJ's coming out, Johnson spoke about the trouble many LGBT people of color have when coming out. "In the black community, young gay men or young ladies who are lesbians, they're afraid to tell their parents," he said. Johnson, who has worked with members of the LGBT community for decades, went on to confess that he hopes the gay “community” will help take care of his 20-year-old son, picking up where his personal knowledge base lacks.
"What I wanted the gay community to do for me is help my son," he said, "give him the right information, help him to grow and be a good young man. Things that I can't talk about, that I don't know about, they can help him."
Watch the interview below: