Posted by: E (The Third Glance) | July 28, 2012

Born This Way Foundation: doing things right

A short break from my travel adventures log, because something amazing just happened. I don’t usually wade into social justice anymore. I did for a while, and it got so overwhelming and exhausting, and overall inconsistent and frustrating, that I just decided that I was going to step back. But every once in a while, I notice something and decide to do something about it, and I wanted to share the story and response.

One of the awesome bloggers I read, Miriam of Brute Reason, wrote a post touching on the fact that Lady Gaga’s Born this Way Foundation is partnering with Office Depot to put out a line of self-esteem boosting, empowering rainbow-themed office supplies, that say things like “Be Yourself”, “Be Kind”, “Be Accepting” and others – check out their website for more details. Miriam’s post is a great read about the crazy responses people are giving this (things like “these are going to turn our kids gay!”). But I had another take on it. I love the message that they are spreading. It’s something every kid needs to hear and take to heart. Heck, it’s something every ADULT needs to hear and take to heart. Just a little bit more kindness in the world, and it would be a better, safer place for everyone, especially people like me. So while I’m not the hugest Lady Gaga fan (though I admit, her music, especially the acoustic versions, are very enjoyable when I’m in the mood for it), I started poking around on their website. At first, I went specifically to see if the Born This Way Foundation specifically mentioned LGBT youth anywhere in any of its mission statements or anything. Turns out, it doesn’t, well not really, and it’s really not the focus.

Their mission statement, which I’ve copied directly from their about page, is:

“Led by Lady Gaga and her mother Cynthia Germanotta, the Born This Way Foundation was founded in 2011 to foster a more accepting society, where differences are embraced and individuality is celebrated. The Foundation is dedicated to creating a safe community that helps connect young people with the skills and opportunities they need to build a kinder, braver world.

We believe that everyone has the right to feel safe, to be empowered and to make a difference in the world. Together, we will move towards acceptance, bravery and love.”

Now what’s so bad about that? Accepting society? Differences are embraced? Individuality is celebrated? Safer community? My gosh, this is something I can get behind! As a young autistic adult, who experienced a fair amount of bullying growing up, and is constantly shoved aside and ostracized for her differences, anything that fosters more acceptance is great for me personally, but is also just a really wonderful thing overall.

So this is where my “activism” comes in. I poked around on their webpage a little more, and found the following, in a blog post about the grumbling of the folks against empowering youth to be accepting and kind:

“We care deeply about empowering youth and building a kinder and braver world for ALL people of ALL ages, races, religions, creeds, socioeconomic backgrounds, and sexual orientations.”

This is great, but it’s missing something – can’t you see it? I can, and did. And since my overall impression of the foundation at that point was basically glowing, I decided that, to heck with it, I’d write them a little note. So I did.

Here’s what I wrote to them:

Hi there,

I’m an autistic young adult, and I really love what the Born This Way foundation is doing. As someone who suffered considerably from bullying as a young person because I just never “fit in”, the messages of “be accepting”, “be yourself” and “be kind” are just so wonderful and so incredibly needed. I noticed on one of the blog posts recently, that you state your mission statement as:

        “We care deeply about empowering youth and building a kinder and braver world for ALL people of ALL ages, races, religions, creeds, socioeconomic backgrounds, and sexual orientations.”

As someone who is autistic, and who has a relatively obvious “invisible” disability, I would love to see “ability” included in the list of all people. Those with disabilities are often overlooked as “non-people”, even by social rights groups, and I feel that you have the chance to do something amazing by including us in your mission statements such as the one issued above. Acceptance and acknowledgement that we are people too, is something that affects all of us.

Thank you very much!

E

p.s. while I can’t speak for the transgender community, I feel that adding “gender” wouldn’t be misplaced either. However as I do not identify as trans, I can’t really speak to that directly.

p.p.s. I love rainbows, and am very excited to get my hands on a set of those post-it notes. :)

That was yesterday. When I submitted it, I got a little message saying that they are getting lots of messages, and probably wouldn’t be able to respond. However, today, I got the following response:

Dear E,

Thank you so much for writing in with your beautiful and thoughtful message. I so appreciate your amendment to the mission statement that I’ve sent it to someone on the team to see if we might be able to add the world “ability” into it. No guarantees, but I wanted to let you know that I’m totally in agreement, and am looking to have that change made if possible.

In the meantime, I’m so happy to hear that the Office Depot messages resonated with you! I just want to say that everyone here at the Foundation appreciates your kindness and bravery, and we all know that you were born beautiful.

We hope you have a wonderful day, and thank you for helping to make this a kinder, braver world,

Born This Way Foundation Team

Another social action group doing the right thing. Thank you, Born This Way Foundation, for not only listening, but really hearing what I had to say. Fingers crossed that the rest of the “team” agrees. :)

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Responses

  1. Oh E, that is awesome! Well done on everything lately! I’ve been reading and taking it in, and it seemed like time to send you a line. I’m excited for you and all you’ve been accomplishing lately. I also admire Lady Gaga…sometimes the music is great, sometimes less so, but clearly she has a good heart. Well done taking action! Yay Lady Gaga too!

  2. How wonderful! It always gives me a little glow when I’m noticed and my words make a difference.

    I went out of my way to avoid Lady Gaga like the plague because of all the hype, but I’m liking her more and more!

  3. Wow! Well done E. This is such an amazing and positive message.

  4. NICE. I hope they do add it!

  5. Hi E
    My reply is very much on the lighter side:

    In the spirit of blogging, networking and chainletter fun I am stopping by to let you know that I nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award! Please stop by halfpastnormal to claim your well-deserved prize and get more details. Have a fantastic day!
    xo Angela http://halfpastnormal.wordpress.com

    ps. You can participate if you want to, but just be sure to know that I love your blog.

    • Aww thanks :) I’ll definitely join in the fun when I’m back… right now I’ve completely avoided everything blogosphere-like for the past 9 days, because I’ve been sooooo busy. I’ll be back soon though – remind me on my next post, and I’ll definitely join :)

  6. Hi! First of all, I would like to give you my compliments for your blog. I found this post by googling “people who got in touch with the Born This Way Foundation”, because I’ve been trying to contact them for a couple of weeks but they never replied to my e-mails. I am an Italian student who would like to get in touch with any of the members of the Foundation so I can ask him/her a few questions for an assignment I would like to write. Could you please tell me which e-mail address did you send your e-mail to? Thank you very much in advance! Elisa

    • Hi Elisa, thanks for the comment :) Unfortunately I have no good advice… I simply filled out the “contact us” form on their website, and got a response that basically said “we don’t respond to most emails because its too much work, and we don’t have time to do everything, but this one caught our eye.” Sorry I can’t be more helpful, and good luck! :)

      • I didn’t even get the e-mail that said that they were too busy to reply to all e-mails, so I guess that’s a bad sign! Anyway, I will try to e-mail them one last time and try to be more persuasive :) thank you so much for your quick and polite answer! :)


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