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August 3, 2013 / Ang

Serious Business

Do you guys remember the list of fun facts that I posted at the beginning of this blogging experience? If not, I completely understand. But one of those fun facts is extremely relevant at the moment. It was number six because I handled the list as a stream of consciousness.

I’m an ally. Seriously – talk smack on my friends, refuse equal rights, etc – you’ll have a feisty blonde on your hands.

Well, someone released the feisty blonde this morning. I opened up my laptop and signed onto Facebook and the first thing I saw was a post by a friend that I worked with in the past. She was feeling pretty feisty herself saying, “This makes me SICK! I’m really not a violent person but I would have decked this guy….” I couldn’t help but click on the link out of curiosity, it was a blog post from amotherthing.com that went viral. When I say it went viral I mean that it’s now on The Huffington Post website, and I couldn’t get the original post to load earlier – I think the website isn’t used to as much traffic as it has been getting. So you should click this link and read it.

Okay, have you read it? Let’s talk about it. First things first: I applaud this mother. I feel like she’s doing things right. It makes me so happy to see that she and her husband are allowing their son, Dexter, to express himself as he will. He likes to wear super hero costumes, he’s a great big brother, and he just so happens to enjoy playing dress up with his mom’s clothes and accessories sometimes. I don’t know if the last part is atypical of boys or not, I was a little girl who liked to play with blocks and toy cars just as much if not more than playing dress up. I didn’t have any little brothers, I don’t have nephews (yet) – so I’m not really sure how little boys act. I feel like I vaguely remember a little boy that was a month younger than me playing dress up with one of the other girls at the daycare my grandma ran when I would go there to play some days – so maybe it is a typical behavior.

Whether or not this is a typical behavior is completely irrelevant, though. All that matters is that he was doing what made him happy, and his parents are accepting enough to allow him to do so. He DID rock that headband, it was adorable. There were some teenage girls who had the giggles about the fact that a little boy was wearing a headband, and their behavior was also a little out of line. There’s a part of me that feels like dismissing it, “Oh, they’re just teenagers, they’re like that.” Totally inappropriate, though. We need to be encouraging acceptance at all ages, therefore: the teenage girls should have just accepted that he was an adorable child who happened to like his mother’s headband and decided to wear it and moved on. Giggling at different really isn’t a great thing to do.

The girls weren’t the worst of it, just the ones that called attention to this mother with her sons. There was a man nearby (who was quite possibly drunk as he smelled like alcohol) who decided it was his business to step in. He laughed at the fact that the child wearing the headband was a boy, because apparently it’s acceptable for little girls to dress and act in “masculine” ways but a boy grabbing a headband because he enjoys it the way my niece enjoys stealing everyone’s sunglasses is just unacceptable in this man’s world. And the man had the audacity to take the headband off of the child saying, “You’ll thank me for it later.” Bad enough, right? It gets worse. When the mother stepped in the man told her that Dexter was “a fucking faggot” and would get shot someday.

Yes, I’m serious. Congratulations, world – prejudice and hate are still very much alive in today’s world, in all shapes and forms. There’s a part of me that isn’t sure which “phobia” to qualify this under. It almost seems like transphobia to me, but the thing is – Dexter isn’t transgendered, he enjoys being a little boy, dressing like super heroes, and “[capturing] the baddies.” The man’s parting words and sentiments most definitely qualify as homophobia, though.

We honestly live in a world where people feel that it’s justifiable to say that someone’s son will get shot and use slurs while speaking about him simply because he likes to wear headbands. Dexter is TWO. He may eventually identify as gay, and if he does – that’s fine. That doesn’t give someone permission to use hate speech or commit hate crimes. But for now, he’s just a little boy having fun. This man’s actions are reprehensible.

Can we talk about this? I’m serious – leave comments, e-mail me, share the article or this post. The only way to eradicate a problem is to bring attention to it and actively try to work against it. So, let’s do it. Let’s make a pact right now to allow children freedom of expression and give them a chance to find their own identities, and to accept them once they form those identities. If we see someone acting out of hate, let’s step in and try to educate that person. At the very least, step up and tell the person being treated poorly that you are there, accepting, and willing to be a part of his or her support system.

We live in a world where hatred is espoused, and it shouldn’t be. We shouldn’t brush homophobia, transphobia, racism or any other type of hatred off as normal, we should be fighting against it. So step up, please.

Oh, and just in case this man’s actions made you lose a little faith in humanity, here are a few things that may renew that faith. Not only are Dexter’s parents accepting of him, but someone shared a story about a family who was accepting of their son “The Tiny Tornado” and their journey so far as they began to realize that he identifies as male and helped him along his path. You can read about it here; I think it’s sweet. There’s also this article about what I have decided is an awesome company doing everything they can to support an employee who is transitioning. You can also check out how these children replied to the Cheerios commercial. They were completely unfazed by the fact that the family was of mixed races, and one of the teenage girls is honestly in tears over the hatred that people spew based on the color of people’s skin. There’s a boy in the video who is quite poignant: everyone is the same under their skin despite skin color, sexuality, etc – everyone is human. It’s beautiful, and this is the link that I have.

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