Gabrielle Union Speaks On The Tragedy Men May Experience Without Support

Gabrielle Union is finally speaking her truth the way only she can — with humor, class and passionate abandon.

The crowd at Parkway Central Library hung onto Gabrielle’s every word as she discussed the issues of race, sexual violence and infertility that she explores in her memoir, “We’re Going To Need More Wine.” Conversations overheard in the crowd ranged from pure excitement on being upclose with the superstar to curiosity about Mary Jane Paul’s fate. Mary Jane is obviously the fictional lead of the hit show, “Being Mary Jane,” but there are similarities between her and the actress. Gabrielle said in an interview with Philly.com’s Elizabeth Wellington that she felt exposed once Mary Jane’s story touched on infertility, a pivotal turn she had no idea would develop when she first accepted the role. “It was very difficult to be going through it in real life,” Gabrielle said, “and to try to bring all that energy into the character.”

Since she admitted to her miscarriages days before her book was released, headlines highlight the perseverance Gabrielle seems to effortlessly portray to the public. But, I was impressed with how honest she was during the discussion about experiencing her pain with her partner. Gabrielle admitted how surprised she was about the weight of her husband’s mourning. The couple is part of a support group for others with fertility issues, but Gabrielle admits most of the support is specifically geared toward women.

Infertility is definitely a topic that is the most elusive. Technological advancement has offered both hope and options, but the cause of it is often left for others to deal with, judge or make unnecessary assumptions on. As Gabrielle reminded the audience of the (seemingly) obvious approach when addressing couples on the subject (answer: you don’t), I couldn’t help but think of the number of women who’ve had miscarriages and spoken freely on it and only the handful of men I’ve spoken to who’ve admitted the hurt they had experiencing them with their partners. While many women are transparent about their healing, the space for men to do the same isn’t exactly present. The conversation on birth and conception in general is often centered on the woman who’s either experiencing it, struggling with it or making efforts to plan for it properly. The responsibility for a woman to “not get herself pregnant” is much stronger in rhetoric than the (rightful) responsibility of a man making sure he doesn’t get anyone pregnant. But, pregnancy, regardless of its rate of success or failure is a shared experience that affects the two involved. As men should be held accountable for their part in conception, they should also be given the space to grieve and speak on their expectations and insecurities when conception isn’t the outcome.

I can’t imagine Gabrielle speaking publicly about her reproductive challenges without talking with Dwayne nor can I imagine it being the easiest topic for her to discuss repeatedly over the course of a book tour. But, I do appreciate Gabrielle’s candor on the pain she’s still processing while steadfastly believing she will eventually have a child.

I just hope her memoir will spark enough conversation for both men and women to speak openly about their pain and the support they need to endure it.