This Friday, 11/11, at 7:30 pm, Kol Ami is celebrating Free to Be You and Me (released on my birthday, 11/27/1972) through story and song. Rhonda Marshall and David Levitan are preparing! Zoom and in person in Kirkland.
If you are unfamiliar with this cultural gift, please check out the links below!
On November 27, 1972, a group of activist entertainers, some of the most talented and well-known people in American society, released an album dedicated to deconstructing normative gender roles in society. Over the past 50 years, hundreds of copies were sold, and a book based on the album was published in '74. The made-for-TV remarkable Free to Be You and Me won an Emmy and Peabody, and its ratings smashed records. And it also began to bring the deconstruction of the rigid gender roles inherited from previous generations to the mainstream.
This was an era of new awarenesses. The new awarenesses? Humans exist on a continuum of experience of male and female. Your gender does not define your abilities or possibilities in this world. This was the era of fighting for gender equality at the most basic levels. In the early 1970s, women could get credit cards in their own names. Abortion was legal just months after Free to Be You and Me was released. Roe V. Wade was decided in Janraury1973. The laws were changing. The culture, too, needed to change.
Cultural change takes time. It often lags behind the change in laws. The first woman rabbi was ordained in the Reform Movement in 1972 too. Fifty years later women are probably close to 50 percent of the rabbinical school classes in the liberal denominations. We have equal access to the education of the rabbinate. Yet salaries and senior positions have not caught up. Today LGBTQ people have access to rabbinic education, but rigid stereotypes and expectations also infringe on their access to equal employment and acceptance.
We can both celebrate cultural gains since 1972 and also note the work we have ahead for our next 50 years as a human community. Free to You and Me is a celebration. And a mirror. Antiquated gender norms are still a strong force in our society. Enforcing toxic norms which smother individual expression and experience still causes people to harm themselves and even take their own lives. We no longer live in a world with just two genders but now an entire rainbow of gender expression. And this shift towards inclusion and expansive thinking around gender is life-enhancing and life-saving for many but also has caused some to double down and grow fiercely defensive of their own narrow gender constructs.
Two steps forward, one step back! But we keep marching on towards gender liberation. A world where our gender does not define our lives. A world where all bodies are loved and all expressions of gender are embraced.
Join our Friday night service here on Zoom!