Cookie, the matriarch of a powerful family at the center of Fox's Empire, is fiercely protective and supportive of her gay son, Jamal. On the same show, Cookie's ex-husband, Lucious, struggles with his son's sexuality. Since we all desire acceptance from our parents, the Empire storyline has resonated with many viewers, but especially with LGBT ones — no one can be absolutely sure how their mother or father will react to their coming-out. Thankfully, there's no shortage of real-life stories of parents greeting the news with a hug and an "I love you."
Here are a few of those tales.
Although Magic Johnson’s 20-year-old son, E.J., was publicly outed by the media in 2013, Magic and his wife, Cookie, were well aware their son was gay and are consistently supportive. “I told him, ‘E.J. I love you and I’m going to support you no matter what,’” Magic recalled in an interview at the time. The former NBA star is a well known HIV activist and also had "the talk" about being safe. "We just want you to love yourself and also to make sure that you have all the information," he recalled telling his son, because it's important "you protect yourself, you protect your partner."
Pictured from left: Lisa Johnson, Andre Johnson, Cookie Johnson, Earvin "Magic" Johnson, E.J. Johnson, and Elisa Johnson
Because she grew up with a lesbian mother, it was no surprise that Breakfast Club and High Art actress Ally Sheedy welcomed her genderqueer daughter, Rebecca, with open arms. Sheedy has been an advocate for homeless LGBT youth in New York City and a supportive figure in her daughter's coming-out process. “It's difficult for me to understand a family member judging or not loving or accepting another family member because they are gay,” Sheedy has said.
Film and television legend Cybill Shepherd was presented the 2010 Golden Gate Award by her daughters Clementine and Ariel at the 21st Annual GLAAD Media Awards. Since then, bisexual daughter Clementine has married a man and given birth to her first child. Her daughter Ariel has since come out as a lesbian. The Moonighting and L Word actress has been an activist for marriage equality and same-sex parental rights for many years.
Pictured: Cybill Shepherd (center) with her daughters Clementine Ford (left) and Ariel Oppenheim
While accepting her child's transition was not always easy, Cher has continually voiced support for her transgender son, Chaz. “For the people who don’t understand it, I try to help them understand by saying, you know, 'I just love being a woman so much, but if I woke up tomorrow and I was a man I couldn’t function,'" Cher has said. "And that’s the only way to describe it to someone who doesn’t understand.”
A 2012 recipient of the Ally for Equality Award from the Human Rights Campaign, Fields has proved time and time again that she supports equality for all, which includes her gay son, Sam. In a heartwarming open letter, Fields writes, “Sam is my youngest son, by 18 years and he is gay. To that I say: So what?”
Although she is a practicing Mormon, this music star is a proud supporter of LGBT causes — and her lesbian daughter, Jessica. She once told ABC News, “I don't think God made one color flower. I think he made many."
Former NBA All-Star Isiah Thomas has been an outspoken ally for the LGBT community, particularly since his son Zeke came out in 2008. “My parents like to say they always knew I was gay," Zeke told Out. "I came out to them, and they were very accepting. I always knew they would be accepting.”
Vanderbilt’s son, TV journalist Anderson Cooper, came out publicly in 2012 and has received nothing but support from his famous mother. Vanderbilt has even mentioned her desire for her son to settle down and adopt children so she can be a grandmother again.
Republican U.S. Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio was a well-known voice against marriage equality until his son, Will, came out in 2011. Two years later, the senator reversed his stance, and he continues to lobby for LGBT rights. In a 2013 column for The Columbus Dispatch, he wrote, “I have come to believe that if two people are prepared to make a lifetime commitment to love and care for each other in good times and in bad, the government shouldn’t deny them the opportunity to get married.”
Best-selling Interview With the Vampire author Anne Rice has been vociferous about her support for the LGBT community, which includes her son, fellow author Christopher Rice. Recently, Anne Rice took to Facebook to call for the end of religious-based discrimination: “I will no longer tolerate hate speech in the guise of Christian belief with the usual irresponsible pick and choose bible quotes and talk of 'sin' and hellfire.”
A disagreement between sisters Mary and Liz Cheney over equal rights got heated recently, but former Vice President Dick Cheney has publicly supported same-sex marriage since 2009. He's often cited by activists as an example to Republicans when lobbying to get marriage passed at the state level. After Mary married her longtime partner, Heather Poe, in 2012, her parents issued a statement saying they were "delighted" the couple could have their "relationship recognized."
Actor-singer Jason Gould is the son of Hollywood royalty — Barbra Streisand and Elliott Gould. Though he knew he was gay by age 8, Gould was not publicly out until he was outed by tabloids in the early '90s. After learning the news, Streisand tried to educate herself about homosexuality and even considered producing Larry Kramer's acclaimed gay play, A Normal Heart. Mother and son recorded a duet of Irving Berlin's "How Deep Is the Ocean" for Streisand's 2014 duets album.