Recently Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union have been in the headlines for the way they have opened up about supporting their child, Zaya. Zaya is the child of Dwyane from his ex-wife who recently acknowledged that she would like to be addressed with feminine pronouns because that is what she feels like she is.

I can’t begin to understand all the language and dialogue of the LGBTQIA community. To be honest, I don’t even understand all the letters that I just typed out. The one thing I can control is my compassion and willingness to learn about a community that faces slander and harm every single day.

I’ve seen the memes, the jokes, the questions about Dwyane’s parenting. Questions about this mystery “gay agenda” and whether a child should be able to make decisions about who they are and how they feel.

On my personal Facebook page, I have at least four families that have a child or grandchild that is transgender. Because I am loud and open about my allyship, a couple of them have reached out to me privately to discuss. I guess talking to me is their way of “coming out” as I’m guessing I have created a safe space for them to express their feelings and they know they can trust me for support. I think about those families every time I see someone post something hateful or hurtful. Then, I understand why people can’t just be free.

People who claim to be good people continue to question the choices of others instead of just minding their own business. Business that we know is messier than they’d want to expose. It’s easier to just judge others instead of focusing on ourselves. We’d rather question someone else’s parenting, rather than raise our own children. We’d rather question someone else’s sexuality without understanding that sexuality is not the same as gender identity. That Zaya and anyone else like her shouldn’t be able to feel what is normal to them, without us deciding that it’s abnormal to us.

There are those who throw scripture in the mix, as if the choir director or feminine pastor of their church isn’t hiding his own secret. Then there are those “hoteps”, who claim that being gay, bi-sexual or transgender is something new and that it’s being forced on us all of a sudden. Nothing about this community is new except now there are far more programs and platforms for them because not being able to be free and authentic is causing more depression and deaths than we should accept as human beings.

We want black fathers in our child’s lives but when we have one like Dwyane Wade in his own, we question his ability to parent. Nevermind that being a good parent is loving and supporting your child as they grow and navigate who they are. Being a good parent is listening to and allowing your child to be expressive and emotional. It’s being able to love your child because of who they are instead of who they aren’t.

Dwyane Wade is an amazing father with a massive platform that, I’m sure has helped a lot of other families deal with their children facing this same situation. Figuring out who they are when the person they are told they are just doesn’t feel right.

I don’t have all the answers. I don’t even understand all the questions. I do know that, when you post your jokes, your skepticism, your hatred for a community you don’t understand, you are possibly hurting someone you don’t know is going through the same thing. They can’t “come out” because they are afraid of how you will treat them. They can’t be free because their being free makes you uncomfortable.

As an advocate for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, I take great pride in protecting others who may suffer at the expense of your jokes or comfort. My advice to you: If you don’t understand something, shut up and learn. If you don’t have anything nice to say, remain quiet. And finally, focus on your own skeletons. Nobody else being gay or transgender (I understand these are two separate things) hurts you. It also doesn’t hurt to give others the same respect you’d want in return.