Updated: Aug 8, 2019
Dwight Howard is opening up about his sexuality after getting hit with a lawsuit alleging he forced a man to sign a non-disclosure agreement after engaging in a relationship with him.
During a two-part interview on Fox Sports 1’s “Fair Game,” Howard said while he isn’t gay, the allegations about his sexuality gave him a new freedom. “It really just set me free,” Howard said.
During his interview with FS1, Howard went into greater detail about how this situation hurt to have someone “make up a whole story about me.”
“It hurt at first to go through it,” said Howard. “It hurt. I sat at home and I was like, ‘Man, I’ll never want to come outside again.’ I’m like, ‘Why?’”
At some point, Howard, who missed most of last season due to an injury, felt transformed by his experience.
“I saw all the hate, the pure hate, from people that I never met before just pile up everywhere I went against me,” Howard said. “And I think that liberated me, because I saw how a lot of people would feel, whether they’re gay or they’re straight, whether they have issues.
“People are afraid to be who they are. They’re afraid to step out and be, like you [host Kristine Leahy] said, because they are afraid of what other people might say or think about them,” he added.
Howard said this allegation made him realize everyone should feel comfortable being themselves.
“I’m not gay. It’s a lot of people who are, and they have to hide, and it’s people who have mental issues, and they have to hide,” Howard said. “It’s people who have different problems in life, and they have to hide. They have to put on the mask every day. It’s like, I don’t want to wear no mask. I just want to be.”
After the interview, Elije wrote on Twitter that Howard was trying to protect his image and “I stand by what I said.” Although the tweet has since been deleted, Elije has retweeted other posts alleging Howard is lying.