Alabama, surprisingly, refuses to air big gay rat wedding.

UPDATE: Last week, the world learned that Mr. Ratburn, the shady, big-hearted teacher from "Arthur" was gay. And the world's collective response? "Uh, I didn't even know 'Arthur' was still a thing."

You know what we call that? Progress! Because it's [jubilant swear words bleeped out] awesome that there's more representation on TV and that people are cool with it (although, it's sometimes tiring that you have to celebrate that the high bar of acceptance is "people aren't freaking out about it!")  and that the 58 moms who make up "One Million Mom" aren't out here crying and screeching about the sanctity of traditional marriage. (Or, if they are, we just aren't paying attention to them!) (At least I'm not. You shouldn't be either.)


No story is perfect, however, and, today, Alabama, the great state that once attempted to elect an alleged pedophile to power and just signed "the most stringent abortion law in the nation" (it's being fought hard!) is trying to put its foot down on LGBT+ representation, too.

The state's public television channel is refusing to show the episode, referring to it as a "violation of trust" to air the wedding ep — the central messages of which are: 1. Marry whoever you want as long as they're consenting and kind; 2. Just because a rat is gay doesn't mean he's going to be fabulous on the dance floor.

If you're wondering why that's considered and, I quote again, "a violation of public trust," the short answer is that "the vast majority of parents will not have heard about the content," according to Mike McKenzie, the president of Alabama's Public Television.

“Parents have trusted Alabama Public Television for more than 50 years to provide children’s programs that entertain, educate and inspire,” read a statement from McKenzie.

“More importantly — although we strongly encourage parents to watch television with their children and talk about what they have learned afterwards — parents trust that their children can watch APT without their supervision. We also know that children who are younger than the ‘target’ audience for 'Arthur' also watch the program.”

This is not the first time that Alabama's public television network has pulled an programming featuring gay characters.  In 2005, they pulled an episode of "Postcards From Buster" (an "Arthur spin-off), because the show featured a lesbian couple.

Though some may applaud McKenzie's stance, his argument is really weak and also really ignorant (if not outright bigoted). Homosexuality is not an "adult" concept. The same way that heterosexuality isn't. No one's showing the inner working of the straight parents' relationships on a kid's show and it's not going to happen with gay relationships either.

The only thing this "Arthur" is trying to give voice to? That homosexual people exist and they're no different and deserve no less respect than anyone else. That's only adult in that more of us should be on that same page when we grow up. It's certainly not a breach of trust. Kids can learn gay people exist without adult supervision! They learn about straight people existing literally 24/7 and they're totally fine!

Parents are already contacting the network to protest the episode's omission. Misty Souder, an Alabamian substitute teacher and mom told AL.com that she's using this opportunity to teach her daughter about the importance of standing up for marginalized groups.

“There’s too much going on not to stand up for stuff, even if it’s Arthur," Souder said. "I never thought I’d be going to battle for a gay rat wedding, but here we are.”

JUST FYI: The episode is available to watch on-line right here.

This is only the first sentence of my post and you can probably feel that I'm a little annoyed. A little miffed. A little snubbed. I couldn't sleep at all last night. And it's all because Mr. Ratburn from "Arthur" came out as gay, had himself a big old wedding, and didn't invite any of us. (Or even advertise that it was happening.)

On one hand, it's too bad that (due to the lack of aforementioned advertising) I wasn't able to call up my old childhood friends so we could watch the happy sight of two anthropomorphized and consenting rats tying the knot.

On the other it's just as great that pretty much nothing was said about Mr. Ratburn's sexual orientation until he shared the fact that he was getting married (to a dude-rat) with Arthur and Friends during the premiere of the show's 22nd season. Because it's literally not that big a deal! Gay people exist! And some of them are friendly, talking animals who can teach you a thing or two about not skipping school, Francine!

I was thinking of explaining why that's great in just two reasons but I realize that I have a lot to say about a cartoon rat getting hitched, so here's a brief list of reasons why Mr. Ratburn's wedding is great for all of us:

  1. Arthur has always been a show that teaches and challenges kids to be respectful of others and recognize that the world is vast and round and contains a multitude of people all of whom deserve kindness and understanding whether they're straight, gay, or Matt Damon conceptualized as a cartoon aardvark. In that way, Mr. Ratburn's coming out and being accepted is just one more way  the cartoon is teaching the kids who watch it regularly that "love is love" and that we all just need to let people live their lives.
  2. This isn't the first time the show has handled what some would view as a "sensitive topic." Aside from broaching the subject of homosexuality in 2005 (Arthur's friend Buster met a lesbian couple to great outrage), the show has navigated a variety of topics that are both difficult and necessary for kids to understand — including cancer, dyslexia, and even what it's like to deal with a tragedy (inspired by the events of 9/11) — in a sensitive way. And while I'd like to say that "some people are gay" shouldn't be a "sensitive topic," it still is. Having kids see a character they trust and love come out without any frills is a nice way for them to learn that there's really not a difference between people (or rats) who have different sexual orientations. They're still the same people you've always loved.
  3. This is exactly the type of nuance those who are always demanding that media add "LGBT+ characters organically"  instead of  "shoehorning them in" claim they want. While you'll undoubtedly see some criticism from folks who think that this episode was "driving an agenda" and "shoving homosexuality" down kids' throats, the reality is that this is exactly how sexual orientation should be discussed in the media. Mr. Ratburn's character wasn't reduced to just his sexual orientation. It was just something he revealed about himself. And it was no big deal. The kids couldn't care less about the gender of Mr. Ratburn's intended. All they cared about was that he married someone kind. Their biggest worry: That Mr. Ratburn's dance moves are very embarrassing. I wish I had that kind of message when I was coming out in the early '00s. I bet a lot of other people who identify as LGBT+ do, too.

Of course, the biggest surprise for many people isn't that Mr. Ratburn is gay; it's that "Arthur" is still airing new episodes in 2019.

It's also igniting some serious nostalgia vibes.

Today, Mr. Ratburn's marriage is news because he's gay, but the overwhelmingly positive response the episode's gotten shows that we're moving in a new direction. That representation matters. And that more and more LGBT+ characters are becoming people (and rats) rather than just tropes. I just wish they'd invite us all to their weddings.

Leah Menzies/TikTok

Leah Menzies had no idea her deceased mother was her boyfriend's kindergarten teacher.

When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.

The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.

Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.

“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”

Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.

@speccylee

Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲

♬ iris - 🫶

“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”

Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”

The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.

"No the chills I got omggg."

"This is the cutest thing I have watched."

"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"

In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.

Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.

They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."

"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.

She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.

A simple solution for all ages, really.

School should feel like a safe space. But after the tragic news of yet another mass shooting, many children are scared to death. As a parent or a teacher, it can be an arduous task helping young minds to unpack such unthinkable monstrosities. Especially when, in all honesty, the adults are also terrified.

Katelyn Campbell, a clinical psychologist in South Carolina, worked with elementary school children in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting. She recently shared a simple idea that helped then, in hopes that it might help now.

The psychologist tweeted, “We had our kids draw pictures of scenery that made them feel calm—we then hung them up around the school—to make the ‘other kids who were scared’ have something calm to look at.”



“Kids, like adults, want to feel helpful when they feel helpless,” she continued, saying that drawing gave them something useful to do.

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Alberto Cartuccia Cingolani wows audiences with his amazing musical talents.

Mozart was known for his musical talent at a young age, playing the harpsichord at age 4 and writing original compositions at age 5. So perhaps it's fitting that a video of 5-year-old piano prodigy Alberto Cartuccia Cingolani playing Mozart has gone viral as people marvel at his musical abilities.

Alberto's legs can't even reach the pedals, but that doesn't stop his little hands from flying expertly over the keys as incredible music pours out of the piano at the 10th International Musical Competition "Città di Penne" in Italy. Even if you've seen young musicians play impressively, it's hard not to have your jaw drop at this one. Sometimes a kid comes along who just clearly has a gift.

Of course, that gift has been helped along by two professional musician parents. But no amount of teaching can create an ability like this.

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