If you asked any diehard royal fan a few years ago if a member of the British monarchy would come out in support of a gay child, their answer would have been a loud and clear ”no”.
How times have changed. And it seems Prince William ruffled a few feathers when he said, during a visit to a charity that helps homeless young people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, that he would stand by his children if any of them came out.
His stance on supporting the LGBTQ+ community is one that can be commended, and a sign that parents are no longer hiding behind the veil of shame when it comes to their children’s sexuality, and instead celebrating their differences.
William represents a growing trend of celebrity parents who are joining a community that has long been marginalised by mainstream society. Now, thanks to the open and frank conversations that are taking place, they may be swaying the collective consciousness by rethinking the way we approach the “coming out” conversation.
Below are four celebrity parents who are helping to change the narrative.
Jada Pinkett Smith
During a recent episode of "Red Table Talk", 18-year-old Willow Smith came out to her mother and grandmother saying “I love men and women equally". That particular Facebook Watch episode focused on unconventional relationships, and Willow had expressed her interest in polyamory – the practice of, or desire for, intimate relationships with more than one partner.
“Personally, male and female, that’s all I need,” she said.
Pinkett Smith then replied with a smile, “Well, there it is I think my stomach just (jumped). Listen, you know me Willow, whatever makes you happy.” The Smiths are outspoken when it comes to talking about sex and alternative lifestyles. In recent months, Pinkett Smith has been using her talk show as a platform for engaging people, and even went as far as admitting to her porn addiction in former years.
Their eldest, Jaden, has also been keeping fans guessing: Is he gay? Is he non-gender conforming? Is he transgender? But in November last year he claimed to be dating fellow rapper Tyler, the Creator.
Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt
Now 13 years old, Shiloh Jolie-Pitt has managed to live most of her life outside of the spotlight. The oldest biological child of one of Hollywood’s most glamorous ex-couples is the product of her parents’ approach to non-gender conformity. While on Oprah a few years back, Pitt revealed that Shiloh prefers the name, John.
On numerous occasions Jolie expressed her support for her daughter’s choice of clothing. Rumour has it that Shiloh has started hormonal treatment and may undergo gender reassignment surgery in the future.
South African-born actress Charlize Theron is mother to two adopted children. During an interview with the Daily Mail, she revealed that her 7-year-old son Jackson identified as a girl.
“Yes, I thought she was a boy too. Until she looked at me when she was three years old and said: ‘I am not a boy!’ So there you go! I have two beautiful daughters who, just like any parent, I want to protect and I want to see thrive,” she said.
Theron has no qualms about raising a transgender daughter, and later reiterated that as a parent it was her job to love her children as best as she can.
Mary Twala and Ndaba Mhlongo
Choreographer and Idols judge Somizi Mhlongo has been the poster child for the local LGBTQ+ community. But this wasn’t always the case. In an interview with Kgomotso (Late Night With Kgomotso), Mhlongo said his late father, comedian and actor, Ndaba Mhlongo noticed that he was gay when he was very young, and jumped to the conclusion that he was gay.
During a 2015 interview with Sunday World, he mentioned that it was hard for him to come out. But he had praised his parents for being loving and supportive.