HOUSTON VOICE www.houstonvoice.com
MARCH 18, 2005 11
point BEREN DE MOTIER
Buster Baxter beat 'Sesame Street'
in airing a gay character, and only
the adults seem to be bothered.
Will you be my gaybor?
I ALWAYS THOUGHT THAT OF ALL
THE children's television shows, "Sesame
Street" would have the first gay character.
I grew up with "Sesame Street." I
watched the first episodes on avocado
green shag carpeting in my parents'
sunken Los Angeles living room, fell in
love with that pre-Tom Hanks "Everyman"
Kermit the Frog, and still own the fuzzy
and blue Grover puppet I got for Christmas
in 1971.1 do a mean Grover impression,
which comes in handy more than you'd
imagine when you have three kids.
"Sesame Street" was the first show to
have inner city kids, black kids, Hispanic
kids, and a puppet with HIV It seemed
inevitable that one day a lesbian couple
would move onto the street, or some nice
gay men would buy Mr. Hooper's store
and start serving mochaccinos (as well as
over-sized cookies) to Cookie Monster on
his daily visit.
But it was Buster Baxter, the happy-go-
lucky, child-of-divorced-parents rabbit co-
star of the popular "Arthur" cartoon
show, and now star of his own "Postcards
from Buster," who introduced lesbians to
Except that, sadly, very few children
got to see it, since before the episode
about Buster visiting Vermont (where
civil unions are legal and couples with
two moms not uncommon) could air,
under pressure from new Education
Secretary Margaret Spellings, PBS pulled
the show from national distribution.
GOOD GRIEF, CHARLIE BROWN.
We're talking Buster Baxter. I have a 2
year old, so I know, Buster is as benign as
you can get. He travels around with his
dad on the show, visiting with kids all
over the nation, with all kinds of family
structures and beliefs.
But then again, he probably treated
the lesbian family like any other family,
and that message is scaring the cultural
Especially after the SpongeBob
I'm not a big SpongeBob fan. I've seen a
little of him when visiting the grandparents (who have cable), and he appears to be
inane, ridiculous and not terribly literate.
But I do appreciate that he took part,
as well as Barney, Big Bird and some
other kid favorites, in a tolerance video
urging children to accept people different
This got the vocal Focus on the Family
group up in arms.
Isn't it strange that we can live in a
society that struggles with violence,
with hate crimes, with racial intolerance, and is currently involved in a war
to promote freedom, democracy and
diversity in a foreign land, and it is considered outrageous to urge kids to
accept the obvious: that all people are
not the same, and it doesn't make you
better than them, and no, you can't hurt
them because they're different?
OF COURSE, THE CULTURAL
conservatives, the Bush administration,
and whoever else is making a fuss about
Buster Baxter and Tinky Winky, has
good reason to worry if intolerance is
Young people do accept difference
more easily. They don't automatically
consider it bad to be dissimilar, and
their automatic response to two people
of the same gender falling in love isn't
to beat them up or make sure they can't
Children are much more likely to want
to pet the couple's golden retriever or ask
if they have any kids who can come over
Until they're socialized differently, that
is. While gay bashing among teens sadly
continues, there is a growing trend toward
live and let live throughout the country
It is hard to demonize us when we live
next door and shop at Target. We can't be
going to hell in a hand basket too fast if
we're president of the PTA or principal of
the school, and young people, and
increasingly their parents, know it.
Interestingly, no one seems to have a
cow when Melissa Etheridge or Nathan
Lane, out and proud as you can be, do a
cameo on Sesame Street to sing the
ABCs, as long as they don't bring a loved
And they will someday. But what I'm
really hoping is that before I'm old and
gray, someone will finally tell me how to
get, how to get to "Sesame Street."
Beren deMotier lives in Portland, Ore., and
can be reached at clejiwtier@telepwtconi.
Out at the All
and Out at TUTS
are important to
gays and lesbians?
DAVID HIGGINB0THAM, 52
Artistic Director for Masquerade
The theater embraces the gay
community like no other branch
of the arts, and events like these
uplift the gay community. Plus,
there are so many hot gals and
Events involving and supporting
the arts are a great vehicle for
the gay and lesbian community,
along with their supporters, to
interface and show community
Most importantly, I think they
provide a social atmosphere
based on people's common interests of art and culture rather
than based predominately on
DOUG THOMPSON, 27
It gives the GLBT folks a chance
to re-connect This community
needs so much support, and this
is such a great opportunity to
show Houston that these groups
are very much a part of our
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Interviews and photos by Dalton DeHart