Children: Let them Amaze You
Pink or Blue
Who am I? That’s a question that comes up in the course of life. It can be an issue for some, and a source of contention for others.
A co-worker once asked me, “Who are you? I mean, how do you identify yourself? A mother, right?”
I responded, “No, that’s not my identity. Motherhood is a gift. If all my children died today, then I would no longer be a mother. Identity is something that cannot be taken away from you.”
“So then who are you?” she persisted.
“I am an artist. Anyone can destroy the paintings I’ve done and all the stories I’ve written, but I will create more and can even recreate what was lost. Identity lines your soul. Nobody can peel off that layer of your spirit. It’s why we’re human. It’s why the world needs everybody to contribute because everybody’s got something different to offer. Like the way you cook, Marla. You told me that sometimes you dream about a new recipe and actually get up and test it out. That’s passion. And the rest of us love that about you, especially when you bring in your creations for us to enjoy at work!”
“Yeah, that’s it.“
That’s it. You are who you are. You can’t help it. You can’t change into something else.
Last week the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that same-sex marriage is a legal right. Love is love. One of my dearest friends from childhood is gay. Even when we were kids, we all knew that Virginia wasn’t interested in boys. To us, that was no big deal. Virginia was our friend. We accepted her for who she is, not who we thought she should be. And she accepted us. We were friends, and we still are, for over fifty years now, and ever so grateful that all of us still have each other. Virginia moved from our small town in Ohio to Seattle some forty years ago and found the love of her life, Rhonda. They finally were able to get married in 2013 after having lived together for these past forty years. Love is love.
That’s Virginia. That’s her identity. She’s gay. Nobody can change that.
I have a couple of new friends. Twin teenage girls who live in San Francisco. I get to stay with them occasionally when their parents (who are my old friends) are out traveling. I love spending time with the girls. My children are grown and all past 30, so I am not up on all the latest that I used to glean from being around my kids. One evening at dinner, the twins and I got to talking about identity issues. Teenagers are right at that point in life when they are sharpening their radar on the subject. They told me about this kid who produces online videos about gender issues. The girls said that the videos are super creative and well-done. Naturally that sparked my interest.
Ben J. Pierce’s work and his thought-provoking visual art challenges gender issues about identity. Here is an excerpt from an article about him on the Daily Dot (you can keep up on the latest with Ben on Twitter @BenJPierce):
By Rae Votta on November 12, 2014
Three boys adorned in blue stand in repose as portraits of society’s version of maleness, but as one reaches for a pink doll, the others turn and begin chase. This is paired with the lyrics, “Hush boy, oh hush boy / Don’t say a word / throw on a jersey, no one gets hurt” matched with hand claps that begin to build the tension for the next 3:58 of “Little Game.”
This may sound like a high-concept music video from an established, cutting-edge artist, but it’s actually the brainchild of Ben J. Pierce, a 15-year-old who wrote, produced, and sang this very personal yet still socially relevant track dealing with gender roles that’s racked up almost half a million YouTube views.
“At the beginning of this year, I had an encounter with someone who said if I were to fit into the masculine archetype, I would have it a lot easier in life,” Pierce told the Daily Dot of his inspiration for the song. “Of course I was rubbed wrong by that, and I went home and, in a very passive aggressive way, I wrote ‘Little Game.’ It began to grow into something else because the video concept kept coming up.”
[...] Like many of the other teens who are controlling their own creative destiny in the digital space, Pierce says he’s always been active online.
“I’ve been watching YouTube ever since it was a thing. I was that 5-year-old who had a computer and was already starting to figure out how to do everything. In 2011, I was about to turn 12 when I first made my first video. It originally was going to be documenting my acting journey, and it sort of became an outlet for my own comedy writing and where I could voice my opinions and point of view, which is where my YouTube channel came from.”
[...] “Through [YouTube and other social media] we do have a little more creative control on what we do,” he said. “I’m very inspired by everything going on. I think it’s exciting where we’re in a place where we can create and speak in a public platform and be taken seriously.”
Meanwhile, "Little Games" continues to gather praise from adults and peers alike.
“What’s been interesting this week is seeing the generational effect,” Pierce said. “There are people of older ages who have said, ‘If I had had this at 15, it would have changed how I carried myself and accepted myself.’ That’s something I couldn’t have ever imagined, but it’s exciting. It’s something I get very emotional about. It’s always been something very close to my heart, but to know it’s translated and affected other people, it’s crazy.”
Pierce says it’s all more than he ever expected, and that outpouring of love and support quelled any worries about releasing his work to the world. “I was very worried about releasing it because it is a such a vulnerable thing that I’ve held very close to myself for so long,” he said. “It wasn’t until a week before we released it that I realized we couldn’t back out. A lot of people are relating to it and taking it to heart. It made all of that anxiety worth it.”
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