Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Remembering Fred Rogers

I once asked a friend who her biggest celebrity crush was, and was surprised when she immediately answered, "Mister Rogers."

"I dream about him some nights," she admitted. "How beautiful it would be to have a physical relationship with a man like that, so tender and kind! I imagine us losing our virginity together."

I have to admit that up until our conversation, I'd never seen Mister Rogers in that particular light; in fact, sexually fantasizing about Mister Rogers was a bit... well, creepy. For me, his show had been the adolescent equivalent of valium: I'd come home from school, fix myself a huge bowl of sugary cold cereal, and zone out in a soothing bath of unconditional love and acceptance for an hour. Mister Rodgers was the proxy for the parents and teachers I'd always longed for. Certainly he was the only adult who ever told me, "I love you just the way you are."

Because Mister Rogers was the masculine embodiment of acceptance and nurturing, qualities traditionally identified as "feminine," many people have assumed he was gay, a notion his new biographer wishes to dispel. 

In fact, Mister Rogers was a pretty radical character for his era. He challenged viewers' perceptions of what it means to be "a real man." 

Perhaps he had a greater impact on my childhood psyche than I have previously given him credit for. After all, I grew up to be openly attracted to men with recognizably "feminine" qualities: Those teachers, nurses, and therapists that combine physical masculine strength with sensitivity and empathy; those "sissy" straight boys who aren't afraid to surround themselves with color or soft sensual fabrics, whose hair is just a little too long, who openly cry at movies or concerts. And then, in late middle age, I took that predilection even further (and I've never looked back).

What explains the enduring appeal of Mister Rogers? Well, even an agnostic like me believes that, as a force for change and a source of happiness, nothing in this world is stronger than love: Mister Roger's call for compassion and the need to embrace tolerance, not only of others but of oneself, has never been more powerful, or more needed.


  1. Cinzia, you need to stop everything and read THIS

    As for being dismissive of Mr Rogers's masculinity-- the losers who do that are full of crap. Mr. Rogers is a man who could reduce even the toughest, most posturing punks to tears with his compassion. Just read it and you'll see!

    1. What a beautiful story, Anon. Thanks for linking me. Fred Rogers was a remarkable man, in some ways very ahead of his time, and deserves to be remembered and lauded.

    2. Oh. Thank you.

      That's why I love the man.

  2. With respect to your wishes, my handle will be Babs.
    When I post, I'll preface everything with (Babs says)

    Babs says:
    I think your friend was probably attracted to Mister Rogers for the same reason that young girls might be "attracted to" Jonas brothers. Young girls are often sexualized (they sexualized themselves, too, for attention) but they usually aren't very sexual until they mature more mentally, not just physically. So they prefer men who are more like girls and non-threatening, basically. Did anyone like Ken? No…for most of us, Barbie was our first crush. As we mature we start to like men who are more masculine.

    I didn't think Mister Rogers was gay, he was actually a pretty good looking guy…but came across as completely asexual (which is appropriate in the context he worked).

  3. What a coincidence! Mr. Rogers has been on my mind lately and I've even checked out his online bios yesterday.

    I LOVE him. LOVE him (and I'm not a teenage girl, far from it, but fully and happily sexual woman of a certain age). The man was hot, and anyone who says otherwise is itching for a fight. ;)

    If given a choice between Mr. Rogers and any other man on Earth for marriage / life companionship, I would have chosen him in a heartbeat and be eternally grateful if he accepted. I would have worshiped the ground he walked on and praised the Lord or Universe for my astounding luck of being in his company. And there would be (almost) no end to the sweet, delicious love we'd make every day, God and Fred willing. :) Well, we'd have to eat and work, of course, but other than that... mmmm...

    To me, he is the epitome of the true masculine power and wisdom, which manifest not in brawn and bravado but in compassion and love, two qualities that are far difficult to attain and that require an extraordinary intelligence, integrity, and strength of character. Those qualities made him unique among men (the kind of alpha that Red Pillers cannot begin to comprehend, BTW) and set him apart as an example of what's best in our nature. I love him -- did I mention it?

    P.S. Jimmy Carter is another crush of mine. So it could be a tough choice, if it came to it. ;)

    1. P.P.S. Make it three extraordinary human qualities that are far *more* difficult to attain than any others: compassion, love, and humility.

      That's what I call hot. Your friend would have to fight me for *my* Fred.

      On a related note, I wonder what Mr. Rogers would think and say if he knew that he was an object of so many (I don't doubt there are more of us) women's lust and love? And did he know...?

    2. (Babs says)
      "I LOVE him. LOVE him (and I'm not a teenage girl, far from it, but fully and happily sexual woman of a certain age). The man was hot, and anyone who says otherwise is itching for a fight. ;) "

      Lol! I stand corrected!
      Wait…do you have small children? Because when my children were small I was hot and heavy for anything and/or anyone that would buy some silence. It was like some sort of Pavlovian response.
      Barney, Tinky Winky in a tu tu, don't get me started about that vibrating babyseat…

      Ouch! Thems just jokes! Don't hurt me. :-P
      (seriously, he is a good looking guy but sexually desirable? I don't see it, but I believe you. Certainly he was a very good person)

    3. LOL! Babs, I know exactly what you mean about buying silence. My kids are grown now, but, yes, I remember those days too well.

      I never cared for Mr. Roger's "Neighborhood" -- the program seemed contrived and dopey to me; but I cared, very much, about the man. I still do. :)

      To me, a genuinely good and selfless man, of the kind Rogers was, and very few men IRL are, is eminently sexually desirable. Total hots, oh, baby...

      Well, I better stop right here or who knows where this may end.

      P.S. Wait. Barney...? That's not even the same species. Now that's where I draw the line. ;)


Thanks for commenting!