FAMILY AFFAIR–This April 11, 2012 photo shows Magic Johnson, right, his wife Cookie and son E.J. arriving for the opening night performance of the Broadway play “Magic/Bird” in New York. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes, File)
by Beth Harris
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The 20-year-old son of basketball great Magic Johnson is surprised by the public interest in his being gay, something that he revealed to his supportive family several years ago.
Earvin Johnson III, known as E.J., says he feels like he’s coming out of the closet a second time and that he’s “reveling” in the experience — even though news of his sexual orientation broke publicly sooner than he had planned.
In an interview posted Tuesday on the Youtube.com talk show “Gwissues,” Johnson said that he didn’t feel violated after TMZ recently revealed that he’s gay.
“I always wanted to come into the spotlight,” he said. “I always had dreams and plans of doing my own thing and creating my own image, so it came a little sooner than I thought it would but this is still something I knew I would be going through and would have to experience.”
The younger Johnson is a junior at New York University studying event management and design with an interest in fashion, journalism and media.
He said the public reaction has ranged from support to criticism, including online postings involving “nasty things about me and what I’m doing.”
“It’s almost like they’re attacking me for being me and so to that I can only say, ‘Well, I can only be myself, so I don’t know really what you want me to do,'” he told “Gwissues” host and interviewer Howard Bragman, a publicist who recently began representing Johnson.
Johnson’s father, who co-owns the Los Angeles Dodgers, retired from the NBA in November 1991 after announcing he had HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. His wife, Cookie, was pregnant with E.J. at the time. The couple also has an adopted daughter, Elisa, and Magic has an older son, Andre, from a previous relationship.
“I am very, very, very blessed to have the family that I do,” E.J. Johnson said. “My parents have always been super supportive. My sister and I have always been really close and she’s been really supportive as with my brother. When it was time to come out, I was, obviously, scared as most people are. After I got all the love and support from my family then I knew I could go out and conquer the world, I guess.”
Johnson said he first came out to his mother, who approached him when he was 13 or 14.
“I told her how I was feeling and she obviously told me that she had known and always would love me anyway. The same thing happened with my dad like a year or so later,” he said. “Everyone has to get used to it. No parent is prepared 100 percent and fully for something like that. We all had to work and move forward.”
He’d like to follow in his famous father’s footsteps in one arena: hosting his own talk show. Magic Johnson had a short-lived show on Fox in 1998 that was canceled because of low ratings.
E.J. Johnson said he’d like to be “the voice for young gay people who need someone to be on TV or wherever else to talk to them and talk about all kinds of issues that all of us face and not just homosexual issues but all kinds of issues.”
“I definitely want to set a really good example,” he said.