NBA icon Charles Barkley made his first appearance on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" on Tuesday (February 12) and he got candid about his advocacy for LGBTQ rights.
DeGeneres specifically thanked him for his advocacy against North Carolina’s House Bill 2, also known as the “bathroom bill,” which prohibited transgender people from using restrooms and other public facilities according to their gender identity. Barkley convinced the NBA to move the 2017 All-Star Game out of Charlotte, North Carolina because of the bill.
“I hated the ‘bathroom bill,’ ” Barkley told DeGeneres. “So I went to my boss and said, ‘Hey boss, I’m gonna sit out of the All-Star Game. I don’t want to to take away from the All-Star Game, but I’m gonna sit out the All-Star Game.’”
The 2017 All-Star Game was eventually moved to New Orleans.
RELATED: North Carolina Scales Back Its Anti-Transgender Bathroom Bill Partly to Cash in on Basketball Tournaments
Barkley, 56, told Ellen, “I think anytime you’re Black, you’ve got to stand up for other people. Black people know what discrimination is like. If you’re in a position of power, you’ve got to always stand up against discrimination. I’ve been blessed... I'm never going to sit back and let discrimination happen on my watch.”
Barkley, who is a former Republican, has been a longtime supporter of LGBTQ equality. In 2006, he was outspoken in his support of same-sex marriage, telling ESPN, "I think if they want to get married, God bless them. Gay marriage is probably 1 percent of the population, so it's not like it's going to be an epidemic."
In 2011, he voiced his support of Jason Collins, an openly gay player in the NBA, who came out in 2013 "I'd rather have a gay guy who can play than a straight guy who can't play."
Watch a clip of his interview with Ellen below:
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