Great to meet you, EJ! Magic Johnson's 20-year-old son Earvin Johnson III, known as EJ, recently became an accidental celebrity in his own right when he was photographed (in an unforgettable ensemble) holding hands with his reported boyfriend Alessandro Monetti, 21, in West Hollywood April 1. The photos served as EJ's moment to publicly come out as gay, and his basketball legend father quickly pledged his support and unconditional love in a moving TMZ interview.
"I always wanted to come into the spotlight," EJ, a New York University student studying event management and design, said in a Tuesday, April 6 YouTube interview. Talking with Hollywood publicist Howard Bragman for the talk show "Gwissues," EJ admitted his coming out was a little sooner than anticipated. "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."
Many fans and observers joined Magic, 53, in applauding EJ -- although he admitted others wrote "nasty things about me and what I'm doing" online.
"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,'" EJ continued. His famous father has long been an ally of the LGBT community; Magic announced he was HIV positive in 1991, and has been an activist for AIDS awareness, safe sex and tolerance ever since.
"I am very, very, very blessed to have the family that I do," said EJ. His father and wife Cookie are also parents to adopted daughter Elsa, and Magic has an older son, Andrew, from a prior relationship. "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."
EJ first came out to his mother when he was 13 or 14 -- broaching the topic with his father about a year later. "Everyone has to get used to it. No parent is prepared 100 percent and fully for something like that," he admitted. "We all had to work and move forward."
His future plans? Perhaps his own talk show. EJ mused he'd love 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."
This article originally appeared on Usmagazine.com: Magic Johnson's Gay Son EJ Speaks: I Want to Set a "Good Example"