Gabrielle Union has a powerful message for parents of LGBTQ+ youth: ‘Don’t throw away your kids’

Zaya Wade and Gabrielle Union

Gabrielle Union has offered some powerful advice to parents of LGBTQ+ youth – “don’t throw away your kids”.

In her new film The Inspection, Union plays Inez, a mother who rejects her gay son. It wasn’t an easy role for her to play given her personal experience of parenting a trans child.

Gabrielle Union and her husband Dwyane Wade are parents to Zaya, a trans teenager. The couple have been open about their experience of raising a trans child – and they’ve been up front about the hate their family is subjected to because of their daughter’s gender identity.

“You can say whatever about me – normally, I’m going to come with these fists, or I’m going to read you for filth,” Union told The New York Times after the premiere of The Inspection at the Toronto International Film Festival.

“But when it’s your child, it’s a whole different ballgame.”

Gabrielle Union wants to ‘reach’ anti-LGBTQ+ parents

Reflecting on her own experience of raising an LGBTQ+ child, Union said she has a “responsibility to try to reach” parents who hold anti-LGBTQ+ views.

Union said it was the “challenge of a lifetime” to play a mother who is disgusted by her gay son in The Inspection because it’s so far removed from her own feelings.

She described it as “the most important work I’ve ever done”.

Dwyane Wade Zaya Gabrielle Union

Dwyane Wade, Zaya Wade and Gabrielle Union attend the Better Brothers Los Angeles 6th annual Truth Awards at Taglyan Complex on 7 March 2020. (Photo by Andrew Toth/Getty Images)

Union went on to suggest some people are driven to “abandon their children” in pursuit of the “American dream” and “upward mobility”.

“The lengths that people will go, to appear worthy to people who wouldn’t spit on you if you were on fire!” the actor said.

The lesson, for Union, is simple: “You can comport yourself and shape-shift constantly, and it doesn’t matter. So be yourself, and don’t throw away your kids.

“You think it’s going to get you further? It doesn’t. All you’ve done is lose a piece of you.”

Union and her husband Dwyane Wade have been longtime advocates for LGBTQ+ youth. Just weeks ago, they filed to have their daughter Zaya’s name and gender legally changed in a Los Angeles court, and they’ve been Zaya’s biggest champions ever since she came out.

In June, Dwyane Wade revealed he feared for his daughter’s safety every time she left the house because of her gender identity.

“As blessed as it is for my daughter to have parents who can support her, I’m still afraid every moment she leaves the house,” Wade told CNN‘s Poppy Harlow during the TIME100 Summit.

“And not just because of gun violence, but because of the way people perceive her in this world.”