If you grew up in the 1970's or 1980's, you probably can recall "Free to be You and Me." Originally released in 1972, the project included an album of songs, a book, and a television special. A time capsule of the 1970's, the project included Marlo Thomas and her eclectic group of "friends."  The guest list ranged from Alan Alda and Cicely Tyson to Michael Jackson and Carol Channing.

That diverse mashup was the perfect fit for the project created by the Ms. Foundation for Women. The goal of the project was to encourage post-1960s gender neutrality, saluting values such as individuality, tolerance, and comfort with one's identity. A major thematic message is that anyone - whether a boy or a girl - can achieve anything.

Health: Free to be you and me

It’s hard to believe that this album was released nearly 40 years ago.  Harder still, is to imagine that we’re still trying to teach our children that they can be “free to be” who they want.  Have we made strides?  Certainly.  Do we have a long way to go, yet?  Most definitely.

Today’s children can turn on their television and hear discussions about the repeal of DADT, and how ALL soldiers should have the freedom to be themselves.  Kids can sit with their parents and enjoy an episode of GLEE, where students encourage each other to embrace what it is that makes them unique and be proud to be “unicorns.”

We can listen on our radios as Lady Gaga reminds us that we are all “born this way,” whatever that “way” may be.  We can cheer along as Chaz Bono dances with the stars, challenging roles of masculinity and femininity with every choreographed step.  There has been a great change in the diversity that we see presented in our media, and all of that can only serve to make others feel more comfortable in their own skins.

As we gear up for PRIDE week here in Atlanta, I have to thank Marlo Thomas for reminding me that I am free to be whoever I want to be.  I am free to live a life that makes me comfortable and happy.  I am free to love whomever I choose.  I am free to surround myself with family and friends who support me no matter what.  I am free to find happiness in all of it’s many forms.

Perhaps more importantly, though, you are free to do the same. We are all free to find our own path, and to follow that path wherever it may lead.

This weekend, as you meander the park and the offerings of the festival, take time to revel in just how free we truly are.  When you listen to the performers on the stage, or tip that fantastic drag queen, think of the courage that it takes for them to express themselves so freely.   While you watch the parade, witnessing men and women who have the courage to so publicly proclaim “this is who I am,” take time to be grateful for the freedom you have to do the same.  As you pack up your car and head back to your home, think of all of the people who missed out on PRIDE.

Think of the boy who is afraid to embrace his own fabulous spirit.  Think of the girl who is realizing that Mr. Right is never going to be who she’s looking for.  Consider all of those who are not free to be.  Now, take that and hold on to it.  Remember it the other 364 days of the year, and let it encourage you to allow others to be free.