Judge Greg Mathis and his son Greg Mathis Jr. spoke about the experience of coming out on TV while promoting their new series on a Monday segment of TODAY with Hoda & Jenna.
Judge Mathis is a former Michigan judge and television producer starring in his family's new reality show on E!, "Mathis Family Matters." Mathis' son Greg came out as part of the LGBTQ+ community while on the show.
Greg said the visibility of coming out on TV was a scary experience because he had to deal with other people's perceptions of his decision.
"It's been scary because, A, the vulnerability of it all and just putting yourself out there — I had a lot of people that were questioning why I would do it, why it was so important, why I had to make a big announcement," Greg said.
But ultimately, he said, the driving factor in his decision to publicly come out on the family TV show was to be that role model for other people that he never had growing up.
"When I was growing up, I didn't see anyone that I could necessarily identify with, and I think it really does save lives and really, representation is everything," he said. "So when people see me and they see my journey, I hope they can identify with it and feel more comfortable in themselves."
Judge Mathis said he's "very proud" of his son for embracing his identity and being that role model for other people through their family's platform.
But, he noted that there was one part of his son's journey that he was upset with: the fact that he hadn't yet come out to his friends and colleagues.
"That bothered me because I thought he had been out all these years," he said. "It kind of angers me, and I'm going to warn people, 'Y'all better leave my son alone, don't say nothing about my son. I ain't nothing to play with!'"
Judge Mathis said his son had come out to the family earlier, and it was something that they welcomed rather than shunned.
"He let us know when he was a teenager, and we embraced that wholeheartedly all alone," he said.
"Mathis Family Matters" aired its first episode on June 19 and follows Judge Mathis and his wife's experiences parenting their four children and multiple grandchildren. The show features the good — and the bad — of family life, exploring the relationships they have with each other.
"I'm grateful for my dad, because let me tell you: He grew up in the projects of Detroit, a single mother, didn't have a father himself, but the love that he's poured into us as a family is not something that he was taught — he learned it himself and I'm grateful for it," Greg Mathis Jr. said. "(But) I will say his pranks get annoying — very annoying."