In January, an 11-year old boy from North Carolina tried to end his own life. Michael Morones was found unconscious in his home on January 24th, after attempting to hang himself. Michael was bullied by other children because he likes My Little Pony. Grayson Bruce, a 9-year old boy also from North Carolina, was sent home earlier this month because school officials said his My Little Pony bag was a “trigger” for bullies. In order to return to school, Grayson has been forced to carry another bag. Grayson was also bullied by his peers.
Two young boys, who both like a cartoon, who were both bullied for it. Michael is making a slow yet remarkable recovery, but he will never be the same rambunctious little kid. Grayson is back at school, sans My Little Pony lunch bag, but he has learned what happens if you step outside the lines. Both these little kids were taught early, and repeatedly, the lesson that much of society despises anyone who doesn’t fit the mold. Whatever mold that might be-boys shouldn’t like My Little Pony, girls shouldn’t play RISK, boys can’t like dolls, girls can’t like Legos, boys have to be tough, girls should look feminine-once you try and break it, there is hell to pay.
But it’s always been like that. I have been called “dyke” because I don’t wear a lot of makeup, I don’t like skirts, I have short hair, and I really don’t fuss about my appearance. That’s not the mold into which I am supposed to fit, thus, I’m obviously a lesbian. Because all lesbians look like see where I’m going? Once you generalize about one attribute, one thing, one person, you have to keep generalizing. Todd Kincannon’s minions called me a “tranny,” and upon discovering a photo of me online, Tweeted it as “scaaary.” Yes, a middle-aged woman who just got off a flume ride at an amusement park is “scaaary,” because what, I don’t look like a Fox “news” hostess? I’ll embrace that.
I’m an adult, though, I can handle it. I’m not an 11-year old kid, being called “gay” because I like a cartoon. Michael hung himself on his bunk bed. In a statement to a local ABC news affiliate, bullying prevention expert Nancy Mullin said:
Eleven to 15-year-old boys are very much at risk for thinking about suicide when they’re perceived as being gay.
What were you doing at that age? Perhaps you were struggling with fractions, or reading your first grownup book, or you had a crush, or you were planning your summer vacation, down to the minute. Disneyworld, tree forts, skateboarding, swimming, reading, looking at the stars through a telescope, catching fireflies, eating sweet corn with the butter dripping down your chin. All things Michael Morones should be doing right now, but he’s not. He’s a victim of our desperate need to have everyone be what someone told us they should be. So what if he likes My Little Pony, and so what if Grayson Bruce likes My Little Pony? To some, liking a toy or a show or a person you’re not “supposed to” is permission to attack, harass, abuse, and even kill.
Kids usually learn to bully at home. Mom and/or Dad hate “those people,” and there are a few of “those people” at school, so off Junior goes, hating “those people.” These days, Junior could be learning it by watching television, or visiting the internet, because bullying is everywhere. Adults bully each other online, pundits and politicians behave absolutely abhorrently towards each other, and schools protect the bullies, not the victims. That’s what happened to Grayson-he was sent home, he was told not to bring his My Little Pony bag to school, but his bullies have not been punished. The internet loves boxes and molds. While Googling “My Little Pony,” I came upon a Wikipedia entry. The first sentence of that entry is:
My Little Pony is an entertainment franchise developed by Hasbro which is marketed primarily to girls.
Michael Morones and Grayson Bruce can like My Little Pony, because My Little Pony is cute, and sends a very positive message, and there are a lot of adult men (straight men) who like My Little Pony. They’re called Bronies, and when news of Michael’s suicide attempt came out, these amazing men rallied around him, and his family. They raised money for Michael’s medical expenses, they contacted celebrities who lend their voices to the “My Little Pony” animated show, and they sent dozens of My Little Pony plushies to keep Michael company in the hospital. Michael’s school didn’t do that, a group of men who like the same cartoon he likes did that. Men who don’t fit into the box society has created for them.
I know what it’s like to be young, and surrounded by darkness, feeling the only way out is a permanent one, which is why I write about bullycide and suicide among young people. Michael and Grayson need to know they are loved, they are supported, they need to be told a thousand times, and a thousand times more that there is nothing wrong with liking My Little Pony. The wrong thing? Bullying little kids because they’re different. Different is wonderful, different rocks the world, and changes history, and makes everything sparkly and fun. I love different, I love being different, and someday soon, I hope other people learn to love different, too.
To learn about Michael’s progress, and the foundation his family has created, please visit this link.