Union and Wade both used social media as a platform to share Zaya’s inspiring story, and to encourage parents to support their children as they grow and change. “Meet Zaya,” Union wrote in an Instagram caption, accompanying a video of her daughter. “She’s compassionate, loving, whip smart and we are so proud of her. It’s OK to listen to, love and respect your children exactly as they are. Love and light good people.”
Now, the Union-Wades have appeared at the 2020 Truth Awards, their first red carpet together since Zaya came out, and their outfits contained a powerful hidden message. Zaya, resplendent in a custom bright green Rich Fresh tuxedo with a pink belt, matched the ones worn by her stepmother and father. Wade paired his with a shirt in the same shade of pink as Zaya’s sash, while Union’s suit contained green silk details that co-ordinated with her daughter’s jacket. Zaya, Wade and Union also wore identical necklaces and rings from Lorraine Schwartz.
Speaking at the awards, Union said that the family wanted to make sure that Zaya’s first red carpet appearance was about “celebrating black excellence in her community”. “Real allies show up,” Union said, to applause from the audience at the ceremony.
To achieve their co-ordinated outfits, Union turned to her longtime stylist Jason Bolden, who also create looks for celebrities including Ava DuVernay, Cynthia Erivo, Alicia Keys and transgender actor and activist Janet Mock.
As Wade explained in his speech: “When our eight-year-old daughter Zaya Wade came home and said she has something to tell us, when she came out to us as a family, we admit we weren’t educated on the LGBTQ+ community as we should have been.”
“So, we immediately picked up the phone and reached out to our good friends Jason and Adair,” he said. “They helped us navigate the right language to use, the questions to ask, and what to listen for. They also reminded us to make sure Zaya knew her community and felt the love and support inside and outside her home.”
Wade continued: “From working closely with Zaya to design her rooms in our homes to making sure that her authentic self was represented and that her bedroom felt like a sanctuary. Now, that may seem small, but taking the time to make sure Zaya felt seen and heard as she created her own space for us was key. It was key to Zaya’s comfort and her confidence.”
Bolden, who alongside his husband has been named godparent to Zaya, shared images from the event with a powerful caption on Instagram. “To the Wades,” Bolden wrote, “thank you for always showing up, thank you for always taking your light and shining it on those who don’t have a voice or face in the room. For that and many other reasons we love you!!! Zaya Zaya Zaya YOU ARE PERFECT”.
Union, sharing a few Instagram snaps from before the family headed to the event, added that she felt “so much gratitude” to those who have stood by Zaya on her journey.
“It was an EPIC night filled with so much love and a real sense of community,” Union wrote on Instagram. “It was important for Zaya to be a part of such a beautiful night and reminding her of all the love and support she has. We were moved to tears so many times throughout the night.”