Khary Payton is beloved by fans around the world as Ezekiel on “The Walking Dead,” but his off-screen role as a doting dad is earning him the most praise this week.
The Georgia-born actor introduced the world to his 11-year-old son Karter, who is transgender, in heartfelt posts on Instagram and Twitter Tuesday.
Describing Karter as “one of the most happy, well-adjusted individuals I’ve ever known,” Payton wrote: “Man, there is nothing more beautiful than watching your child feel the joy of exploring what it means to be true to themselves.”
“I hope you all have the opportunity to feel the unquenchable love that I am feeling right now.”
Payton’s wife Stacy offered similar sentiments on Instagram over the weekend, saying she was “overjoyed” that Karter was being true to his authentic self.
“Karter is so confident in who he is and was thrilled for me to let everyone know that he’s finally living as his true self,” she wrote. “As a boy. As my son. As Karter. I am so incredibly proud of him and feel blessed every single day to be his mama.”
Payton’s announcement garnered praise from fellow actors, including Mark Hamill of “Star Wars” fame.
“These kids are truly amazing!!” Reno Wilson of CBS’s “Mike and Molly” wrote on Instagram. “Teaching us how to be human on the regular! Let’s go Karter!
Added “Walking Dead” co-star Samantha Morton: “Karter we love you! You are incredible.”
As a number of outlets have pointed out, Payton’s announcement came roughly four months after retired NBA star Dwayne Wade publicly opened up about his transgender daughter Zaya.
Zaya, who turned 13 last month, made her red carpet debut alongside her father and stepmother Gabrielle Union at the Better Brothers Los Angeles’ sixth annual Truth Awards in March.
While Union said she’s grateful for the support she and her family had received from LGBTQ rights advocates, she opened up about the criticism they’ve endured for allowing Zaya to live as her true self.
“With all of the love comes the hate too,” Union told Variety last month. “It’s watching the love handle the hate that has been encouraging. We’re just loving and accepting our kids, which is not revolutionary. To some people it’s nuts.”
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