Gabrielle Union shared how raising a trans child prepared her to play a homophobic parent: 'I'm never going to reject my child'

·3-min read
Gabrielle Union discussed playing a homophobic parent in a new film. Union is raising Zaya, a transgender daughter, with husband Dwayne Wade. (Photo: Chris Delmas / AFP) (Photo by CHRIS DELMAS/AFP via Getty Images)
Gabrielle Union discussed playing a homophobic parent in a new film. Union is raising Zaya, a transgender daughter, with husband Dwayne Wade. (Photo: Chris Delmas / AFP) (Photo by CHRIS DELMAS/AFP via Getty Images)

Gabrielle Union found a significant challenge in her latest film The Inspection, in which she portrays a homophobic parent.

As the parent of a 15-year-old trans daughter, Zaya Wade, with husband Dwayne Wade, Union has always been an outspoken supporter of the LGBTQ+ community.

"I'm never going to reject my child. My child, none of my children, are disposable," Union, 49, explained at the People and Entertainment Weekly studio at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival. "But I get the deep desire to be seen as worthy, and anything that threatens that can go, and for some people that includes their children."

In the film, Union plays prison guard Inez, who is struggling with her son being gay. But coming to understand the perspective of her character proved to be incredibly difficult.

"As an actress, I normally look for characters that have some chunk of me in them. I did not see that in Inez," Union, who also has a three-year-old daughter, Kaavia, with Wade, explained. "My darkness defined the common space with Inez, which is a very vulnerable place, to know that I too am capable."

Union tried her best to identify with her character, looking for ways she could relate to Inez.

"I always look at homophobes as trash. 'Google is free and I'm not doing free labor for you to figure out how to love your kid,'" she explained. "But through the process of this, I'm like, 'Maybe I'm not so different in terms of what led me to that point.'"

Ultimately, the Being Mary Jane star hopes the film can help families that are struggling to find some common ground and come back together.

"If one family can heal and stick together, then it's a success," she continued.

Union took to Twitter back in February to express her anger at Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, after he released a letter stating that parents who allow their child to undergo “sex change” procedures, which include taking puberty blockers, should be reported for child abuse. Union shared Abbott's letter, writing, "This is where we are. We shot past dangerous and horrific a long time ago. The rubber has hit the road so who is standing shoulder to shoulder in this fight? Who truly gives a s**t and whose on that performative bs? Let's see."

Union and Wade have been open about navigating their fears as they raise Zaya. Back in June, Wade told CNN’s Poppy Harlow at the Time100 Summit that due to lawmakers signing state laws restricting the rights of trans youth, as well as other attacks on LGBTQ+ youth such as the "Don't Say Gay" law, he believes Americans are are “losing the human side of us.”

"As sad as it is, as blessed as my daughter is to have parents who can support her, I’m still afraid every moment she leaves the house,” Wade explained. “And not just because of gun violence, but because of the way people perceive her in this world, the way people out there making decisions have now tried to [limit her].”

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