Tomorrow, Monday February 10, 2014 is my 38th birthday and like every year around this time, I think of my birthdays past. There is one particular birthday that always stands out to me. It was 30 years ago, my 8th birthday, a sleepover birthday. I had a handful of friends over and I was super excited. Before my friends came over my dad took me to rent a couple of videotapes. I know I rented two but I only remember one of them, Filmation’s Zorro. I was a huge Zorro fan (still am) and it was one of my favorite childhood cartoons.
So, after cake and opening presents, my friends and I went into my basement to watch the videos. I put on Zorro. Boy, was I super excited but my excitement quickly turned to anger. All my friends started making fun of Zorro and me. I’m nit sure what they said but I ran upstairs crying to my parents. I was so hurt and wanted my parents to send all my friends home. That didn’t happen though. I went back down just pissed off. To my recollection no one apologized and the party went on. I’m not going to lie the next day I was trilled when everyone left.
To most people that probably wouldn’t be something they’d forget about as they got older, but I didn’t. I thought about it for a while after it happened and once in a while as I got older, but every time around my birthday I think about it. Every time I think about it I still get angry. This year was different though. I’ve been thinking about it more and more over the last week and a news article I found on Facebook spurred it on. A young boy name Michael Morones attempted to hang himself after being made fun of for being a brony. If you ware unfamiliar with the term brony, it is a male who like My Little Pony. I am not the target audience of the show and have only seen very little of it. What I get from what I’ve seen is that it’s a show all about friendship and sends out a lot of positive messages. It is truly sad that a Michael felt that this is his only option and he is now in the hospital fighting for his life, especially when he loves a show with such positive messages. I do hope he pulls through and wish all the best of luck. You can read more about it here, http://www.chicagonow.com/portrait-of-an-adoption/2014/02/update-on-michael-morones-the-complications-of-bullying-suicidal-ideation-and-causality/
Michael’s tragic experience made me think of all the bullying I received growing up. Anyone who likes comics, cartoons, sci-fi or anything having to do with “Geek Culture” gets bullied at some point in their lives. People need to learn to accept people for who they are. Now, I know bullying will never stop. You can say kids will be kids and you have to let be kids. But what I find living in this world of “Geek Culture” is that we are some of the nicest, kindest, happiest, and friendliest people you will ever have the pleasure of being around. Maybe because we all have been bullied or at least understand what it is like to not be accepted by others, sometimes even by those closest to us.
Here is a picture I drew for Michael. It’s of his favorite pony, Pinkie Pie and her toothless alligator, Gummy. I still need to ink and color it.
That childhood moment was a big moment for me, a turning point in my life. I’ve always loved to draw and been doing it since I could hold a pencil. Comics and cartoons were the greatest thing in the world to me. It was the day when I realized not to care what others think of me and what I like. I also realized who my true friends are. I don’t care what age you are, the truth is a real friend would never make fun of something a friend likes. You accept it, even if they don’t like it. It was because of this moment I stopped wanting to be around my “friends” and focused on what I really loved, art. Because of school, cub scouts, and events the whole class were invited to like birthdays I still had to be with them from time to time but when I was home I’d pull out my clipboard full of paper, some pencils, and throw myself into another world.
That year I know I became more and more serious about my art. I created my first character and began writing stories. I started to learn to animate and made some of the worst flipbooks ever. I worked so hard at it and devoted my life to the craft that when I was 18 and just ending my first semester in college I got my first pro art gig designing and animated characters for a small children’s educational video game company. Since then I have went on to work in a variety of fields such as video production, graphic design, and puppetry. Today, I teach traditional and digital art and freelance illustration and animation.
I’m not going to say I now look back and I am glad I went through it. I hated going through that experience as a child but it was probably one of the most important experiences and lessons I learned. It did some good things for me. Whatever, it did for me, its now 30 years later and I love my life. It’s sad that it took Michael Morones experience made me figure out 30 years of anger and I do hope that when I think back on that moment I can look at it with less anger and more of the lesson that it was.