Magic Johnson, ex-American professional basketball player who played point guard for the Los Angeles Lakers, has recently spoken out about his battle with Aids, and what it was like to find out his son was gay.
He recalled how Aids used to be a thing that was not spoken about openly, but rather whispered; and having to go before the world to reveal that he had Aids himself.
When he first found out, Johnson fell onto the floor where he remained for hours. He stated that not only was it an extremely challenging and emotional roller-coaster to confess to the world, but that his fear of the unknown was haunting. Especially as he referred to himself as a “control freak,” who was used to having a structured routine because he would have to practice his basketball daily.
He said that it took him a long time to adjust to his new status, and making sure his medication was always with him so that he could take them three times per day.
Johnson had to take 15 pills each time he took them throughout the day, because the doctors told him he was such a big man, that they were unsure exactly how much he should be taking. This lead to his doses being measured, and eventually, much to his relief, being reduced. He now only take three pills once every day at dinner time.
Struggles with the medication came from instances when it needed to be kept refrigerated. Johnson spoke about having to jump onto airplanes whilst trying to keep one of his drugs cold, and it being one of the hardest things he has ever had to deal with.
He went on to urge people to get tested, not only for reasons of self-preservation, but also for partners who could also be put at risk. He reported that doctors can help to provide couples with long-lasting and healthy lives together, and that young people need to learn about these risks with greater impact, as they think of themselves as immune to such things as Aids.
Magic Johnson spoke about his son coming out as gay as well as his own Aids, and emphasized how important it was that he received support from his family. However, he also recognized that he was a minority, particularly within the black community, where people are scared to tell their parents.
He stressed the importance of teaching children about safe sex and how he did this with all three of his children, and also making people know being gay is perfectly acceptable.
Johnson admits he does seek help from the gay community, to give the right information to his son about things he does not know about himself. The pride he has is paramount, for having the courage to not only reveal his sexuality, but also because it inspired other children to come out as gay to their parents.
As he spoke about Aids and his son, Magic Johnson displayed no shyness and spoke directly about the realities of his situation. He believes that these things should be spoken about rationally, rather than brushed under the carpet and ignored.
By Melissa McDonald