Rebels Need Heroes Too.
I never thought I had a hero, nor did I think I needed one. In my mid-thirties now, I’ve gotten pretty far in this world by sticking to my guns and relying on my instincts.
Then, the Video Music Awards (VMAs) happened. P!nk gave such an inspirational speech in under four minutes that my inner rebel just cannot ignore her as my hero any further.
Last year, after I had a health scare, my best friend, Dominique, and I made a bucket list of all the concerts we wanted to see in our lifetime. P!nk was Number One on the list. The next day, P!nk announced she was pregnant with her son (Jameson Moon), and my friend and I said, “This means she won’t tour for a long time.”
That should have been my first clue that this woman was amazing. The very next day, P!nk announced she would be performing at the Summerfest Music Festival in Milwaukee this year. A few months after she had Jameson, she proudly posted pictures of herself with baby weight, reminding women that we are more than just a number on a scale.
Dominique and I bought tickets as soon as possible and booked an epic road trip. P!nk herself would have been proud. We rode out in style in my Mustang convertible. Once in Milwaukee, there was whiskey, there were cigars, and a bicycle cab whacked my arm off a parking meter so hard there was a bruise for a month.
While the trip was phenomenal, P!nk had not yet earned Hero status. An epic girls’ trip, and a song, “So What,” which single-handedly got me through my breakup with my ex-girlfriend, were not enough to earn someone the title of Hero.
My life has drastically changed since a decade ago when I cried my heart out over a girl while relying on P!nk’s voice for strength and motivation. As it turned out, the women-dating days of my life were just a phase. It was an act of rebellion.
Nowadays, I am very happily with a man, but my life is still filled with rebellion. My partner is a black man. Before I became involved with him, I naively thought that racism was a thing of the past, and was merely replaced by homophobia as the next obscene cultural problem to rebel against.
Racism is still a thing. I’m not going to go all Colin Kaepernick here — that’s an article in and of itself. And, I’m not going to go all Black Lives Matter here — another article in and of itself.
I can, and will, say that as a white woman dating a black man, I have witnessed some race issues.
My partner’s family lives in the Midwest. The night before he was set to visit, the state of Missouri put out a travel advisory, stating, “The NAACP wants to make Missourians and our visitors aware of looming danger which could include the following by example of what has happened to some residents and visitors… Missouri’s legislature Representative Rick Bratton argued that homosexuals are not human beings according to his faith; Black high school students in St. Louis have been attacked with hot glue while being denigrated racially.”
While I will always fight for gay rights, I now find myself also fighting for equality for all races, which I had ignorantly thought was an issue long ago resolved.
P!nk is an inspiration to all races and sexualities who fight on a daily basis for equality.
While my women-dating days are mostly behind me, my aforementioned best friend’s life has also changed. She now has a five-year-old girl, which is probably why she reacted so strongly to P!nk’s message to her six-year-old daughter.
Friends for 17 years now, I can safely say I have never seen Dominique cry. She’s a strong woman, and she internalizes everything. Sunday night, I had just returned home from another rockstar weekend as my partner calls it. Exhausted from too much whiskey, sun, jet skiing, and sex, I just could not stay awake to watch the VMAs.
Dominique texted, “P!nk will be on soon.”
“I’m not going to make it up that late,” was my reply (that, and I didn’t have cable).
As I drifted off to sleep, I saw some Instagram posts of P!nk on the red carpet. She was dressed in a man’s suit. So was her husband. So was her daughter. “Boy, what is this woman up to…” I liked the look, but slipped off to sleep knowing that she was up to something. She was making some sort of fashion statement.
I woke up to the text from Dominique, “You need to watch her speech immediately. It made me cry.”
“Wow,” was all I could think.
5:15 am, as I’m clutching to the last moments of sleep on a Monday morning after a hard party weekend, and I knew I needed to make time to YouTube P!nk’s performance and acceptance speech.
It was well worth waking up before the sun.
P!nk has now entered Hero level. Neither I, nor anyone else, can accurately put words on paper to do her speech justice. Go watch her speech; I’ll wait.
As we sit here on the precipice of the release of her new album, Beautiful Trauma, I am in awe of this woman. This woman who so willingly put her heartbreak out there for the world to see in earlier albums, and also forcibly takes a stand for all that matters in this world.
This woman who so willingly taught her daughter that it’s okay if she wants to dress like a boy, that it’s okay if we don’t all conform and wear matching princess dresses. This woman who so clearly herself has made many mistakes in her life, yet learned and has grown into an inspirational human being.
She stood up to the President before doing so was chic with “Dear Mr. President,” and has always championed for gay rights. She aired the pain of her childhood in “Family Portrait,” so that others growing up like her could feel just a little less pain when they hear her music.
At 35 years old, I can happily say I have a hero for the first time in my life. P!nk, keep doing you, you are an inspiration to us all. As someone with a tattoo on her right forearm, where the whole world can see it, of Gandhi’s “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” I can safely say that you are changing the world for the better.
Here’s to us. Here’s to us following your lead and realizing the world isn’t quite as black and white as gay vs straight or black vs white — may we all find the P!nk in the world.
Debbie Botke is a 30-something residing in Northern Virginia, just outside of the nation’s capital. She’s lived all over the country, from Pennsylvania and Georgia to the state of Washington and Florida, with a few other locations sprinkled in there. A world traveler, having been to nearly all 50 states and several countries, she’s always open to new people and new experiences. Her career has taken her from a librarian position to an engineering position working for the government. She can be found on Twitter.