Kobe Bryant is applauding Magic Johnson's support for his gay son, Earvin "EJ" Johnson III.
On Monday night, 20-year-old EJ stepped out in Los Angeles with his boyfriend and effectively went public with the romance for the first time. When TMZ asked Magic about his relationship with EJ, the former Lakers star said he and his wife love and support their son and are "very proud of him."
Bryant commended Magic for backing EJ, but he certainly wasn't shocked by the father's reaction. "Of course Magic is supportive of and loves his son. Why should anyone be surprised?" Bryant told TMZ. "What I can't tolerate is a lack of tolerance."
TMZ notes Bryant could have been referring to tolerance in both the private and public forums, including professional sports.
Magic's support of his son made headlines because homophobia is still rampant in the sports biz. There are no openly gay athletes currently playing for the United States' four major sports leagues. Magic himself had to deal with homophobia after he was diagnosed HIV-positive in 1991.
Even Bryant has been guilty of homophobia.
In 2011, Bryant threw a towel and called a referee a "f**king faggot" after he was benched for a technical foul, according to the Los Angeles Times. The Human Rights Campaign issued a statement saying his language was offensive and "perpetuates a culture of discrimination and hate that all of us." Bryant was subsequently fined $100,000.
But things do seem to be changing for the better. Athletes like the Baltimore Ravens' Brendon Ayanbadejo and Minnesota Vikings' Chris Kluwe have been actively fighting on behalf of gay rights.
Kluwe hopes one day acceptance will come naturally. “[B]oth of us hope for the day when it’s no longer considered something extraordinary to do the right thing,” he said about his efforts with Ayanbadejo, according to the New York Times. “Treating other people with empathy is an ideal anyone can, and should, aspire to.”