Sunday, June 05, 2011

Bullied Gay Children and their Straight Friends

In 1972, Marlo Thomas, the American actress and social activist, released a children's book Free to Be...You and Me, which became an album and this made for television movie.

The project challenged gender stereotypes, it encouraged tolerance, and its basic message was that anyone, whether a boy or a girl, can achieve ANYTHING.

But now Thomas says that message doesn't mean anything anymore because too many children are being  bullied to death.

There was a time when the words "Free to Be" embodied a hope that whatever a kid was, was good enough. But "freedom" doesn't describe the world of this generation. Or of their parents. One of those parents wrote to me on my Facebook page.

"Hi, Marlo," wrote Kevin Jacobsen of New York. "Our son Kameron was bullied relentlessly and committed suicide on January 18th. He was 14. In lieu of flowers, we asked for donations to go to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, my mom's favorite for decades. I know you're busy, but just wondering if you could take a look at our son. We have nothing else to lose."

For all the walls we thought we'd broken down with Free to Be -- and all the stereotypes we thought we'd shattered -- children today are not free to be anything they want to be, nor anything they are, and they are dying for it. And no beautiful lyric can fix that.

Which makes me think what part of bullied, or shattered, or dead, don't these religious bigots understand?

And thank goodness for decent straight people like Marlo Thomas.

And Ben Cohen...

I have to admit that Ben Cohen could probably convince me the earth was flat eh?

Let's hope he can work his magic on the bullies and the homophobes.

Because free to be should be the right of every child.

And the bullied children of this world need all the help they can get...


  1. Shit, it's nearly 40 years later since Thomas wrote that book. Wow, have we ever fallen back as a society.

    I was on brink of entering my teens in 72 and really thought our world was changing, moving forward to a more open-minded place.

  2. hi Beijing...I don't know why I've always assumed that bullying had been with us forever. But what if the violent and desensitizing images kids are exposed to today are making the problem worse? And if so what are the implications for the future?
    As for Marlo Thomas, I must admit I had never heard of her. I was raised on Peter Rabbit, and Thomas the Tank Engine. But now that I know more about her my boomer readers owe me one, for bringing back such fond memories in the middle of The Great Darkness... ;)