Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Baby, Baby Bieber

There is a young man living in my daughter's bedroom. His presence is so pervasive that I've come to think of him like one of family. He's quite charming actually, with a sweet voice, and -- until recently -- this floppy signature bangs-in-the-face style that drives tweens wild when flipped just right (no wonder he sold a lock of it on E-bay for $40,000 to charity). All this going for him and he's still stayed away from drug addiction, petty theft and (that I know of) sexual scandals.

His name is Justin Bieber. That's BEE-ber, which rhymes with fever, which is why they call the international phenomenon and crazy following around this boy "Bieber Fever."

This winky young Canadian crooner was discovered on YouTube at age 12 by a manager/producer who new a teen angel and originality when he saw it. Justin rose quickly to worldwide fame on YouTube before he was signed by rap star/producer Usher. J.B. went on to sell more than 4 million albums in 2010. He is the Shawn Cassidy-Beatles-Elvis of a new generation of tweens like my daughter who love to sing and perhaps cling to the fact that maybe they too might be discoverd on YouTube.

Mostly though I think they just want to date him.

Why should you care about this young, puckish lad raised by a single mother? Because to know Justin Bieber is to understand that dreams can come true. Even if you don't like his catchy and somewhat addictive hits like, "Baby" or "One Time," it's hard not to admire this spunky kid who keeps on climbing the charts (and box office) and attracting adoring fans despite being passed over for an unknown jazz singer at the Grammy's for "Best New Artist" of the year. Plus the kid can dance, and even made fun of himself as he did with Tina Fey on "Saturday Night Live." Plus there was that huge charity concert for Japan...and the list goes on.

As you can see, I like the boy.

They say there are a lot of closet J.B. fans out there who love to say they hate him but secretly croon to his songs in the privacy of the car or shower. I'm "out" in my appreciation of the kid and just hope that guidance from his mom and others will help him stay on the straight and narrow unlike so many other teen stars gone bad. He's inspiring in a age of sexual innuendos and provacative R rated videos that blur the reality of what is cool and what is just plain wrong. That means, for now, he can keep living with my daughter and singing on my Smart Phone.

Then again, "Never Say Never."

Monday, May 2, 2011

Born this way

When I was a little girl, I liked to play with dolls but preferred pants to dresses. As I got older I cut my hair short and prefered to play Star Wars or run around with they boys on the playground. I found myself attracted to boys in general but thought Marilyn Monroe was amazing.

I share these things, not to reveal that I secretly wanted to be a boy (though at a certain time of the month it would have its advantages), but to point out how fluid and blurry gender lines can be.

The recent brutal beating of a transgender woman at a Baltimore McDonald's reminded me that sadly, our society has a long way to go in recognizing that some people are born with a body or biological gender that just feels alien to them. To most of the world, unfortunately, these people seem alien in a world of blue and pink. What society forgets, however, is that gender is more than just anatomy. It's an identity that is often chosen for us from day one when the hospital puts a certain color cap on our heads and checks M or F in the box on our birth certificate.

A friend of mine once told me about a transgender woman she knew who was going through a sex change and that her wife had decided to stay with her regardless. At this time I thought it was rather strange why someone would want to change the body they were born and go to the extreme of having surgery when they could just "be gay." Oh how naive and uninformed I was! Gender orientation is not necessarily gender preference ore presentation.

Recently in Oprah magazine, there was a feature about a woman who met the love of her life online only to discover that "he" used to be a "she." Beauty of it was, after consideration and time, she didn't care. They are now engaged and seemingly very happy.

I certainly don't expect the world to get it overnight. I'm personally still scratching my head at times but learning that gender identity like sexual orientation is not a choice. As we as a species make small steps in tolerance and acceptance of what may not be "the norm" in our society, I hope we will also consider that for most people who may appear or seem "different," well, "baby, they were born this way!"