I Want What They Have: Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade

Love is a many-splendored thing, especially when you’re gawking at it from the outside. In this column, we’ll be examining the celebrity couples that give us hope for our own romantic futures and trying to learn what we can from their well-documented bonds.

I’ll be honest; what with the news of Roe v. Wade being likely imminently overturned, there doesn’t seem to be much to feel good about on this post–Met Gala Tuesday. Personally, though, I’m choosing to let the pageantry of The Met—the dresses and celebrity arrivals and memes—distract me, not from the vital work that needs to be done, such as making sure local abortion clinics stay funded while we await an official Supreme Court ruling, but from the hopelessness and despair.

On that note, I’d like to call attention to one of the couples whose Met Gala arrival genuinely thrilled me: Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade, who both showed up in Atelier Versace. I’ve been a massive fan of Union ever since her Bring It On days—never more so than when she penned an essay giving context and depth to her character, Isis—and while I’m not what they call a sports fan, even I’m aware of Wade’s yearslong career playing basketball for the Miami Heat.

Union and Wade always give off a relaxed, genuinely fun aura of mutual satisfaction when they appear in public together, but their Met Gala look was risky enough (the abs! Oh, the abs!) to cut their your-favorite-aunt-and-uncle persona with a little sartorial edge. Of course, the looks also had a deeper meaning: “When you think about the Gilded Age and Black and brown people in this country, this country is built off of our backs, our blood, sweat, and tears. So we added these red crystals to represent the blood spilled during the accumulation of gross wealth by a few during the Gilded Age, off of the backs of Black people and people of color in this country,” Union said during a Vogue livestream.

To be honest, it’s impossible to pen an open love letter to Union and Wade—particularly in this fraught cultural moment—without paying tribute to the way they continually and publicly love and show up for their daughter, Zaya Wade. Fourteen-year-old Zaya publicly came out as trans in 2020, and Union has taken to her role as the stepmother of a girl whose identity is constantly under attack with aplomb, saying in a recent interview, “It’s important for us to live and love out loud. We didn’t exactly understand why [supporting Zaya’s trans identity] was a thing because it’s like, we love all our kids out loud. But it is a thing, and a lot of people do need an example.”

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