QueenTiye, on May 19 2007, 07:35 PM, said:
posted an article which defended Falwell on the Tinky Winky thing. I'm glad she did. Regardless of what anyone ever thought of Falwell, or what anyone thinks of the gay rights issues, Jerry Falwell didn't manufacture the ideas of purple as the "gay" color or the triangle as the symbol of the gay rights movement.
The gay rights/AIDS activist group ACT Up has a purplish pink triangle as their symbol - and during the height of the AIDS crisis, that symbol emerged as a militant effort on the part of this group to bring gay rights issues, and the lack of government action in the AIDS crisis to the forefront. http://www.actupny.org/
The ridiculousness of Falwell's position was the idea that there was a massive conspiracy to corrupt children through the Teletubbies (parents with less extreme views still had issues with the Teletubbies, disagreeing that this was reasonable educational programming). It wasn't that he was wrong in identifying the symbols as those used by the gay rights movement.
True (though as an old lesbian myself, I always thought the color was lavender). And as G points out, the triangle was actually Hitler's invention; we just "reclaimed" it and redefined it--sort of using it as a symbol of our resilience instead of as its original intent, which was to brand us for annihilation.
But Falwell didn't connect all these dots himself. Evidently, a writer for the Washington Post had written a humorous piece identifying Tinky Winky as a gay fave not long before Falwell's magazine decided to sound the alarm about the Teletubbies' producers' evil intent to turn children gay.
Here's an article from the author of that WaPo piece, apologizing to Tinky Winky
I'm sorry, Tinky Winky
THE WRITER WHO OUTED THE "GAY" TELETUBBY IN THE WASHINGTON POST APOLOGIZES FOR BRINGING THE WRATH OF JERRY FALWELL UPON HIM.
BY MICHAEL COLTON | I'm sorry, Tinky Winky, I truly am. I should have respected your privacy, and kept your bedroom door shut. I shouldn't have exposed your purple, gay soul to an unfriendly world.
When noted God-lover and part-time cultural critic Rev. Jerry Falwell decided to target the hit children's show "Teletubbies" this week, for supposedly promoting a homosexual icon, I cringed. Then, like the rest of the country, I laughed. His main ammunition for the attack came from a joke in a story I wrote for the Washington Post, my former employer. Though I never intended to arm the religious right, Falwell's paranoia is oddly flattering.
In the February issue of his National Liberty Journal, Falwell alerts parents about the British show's gay agenda, citing circumstantial evidence for Tinky Winky's sexual preference.
"Furthering Tinky's 'outing,'" reads the journal, "was a recent Washington Post editorial that cast the character's photo opposite that of Ellen DeGeneres in an 'In/Out' column. This implies that Ellen is 'out' as the chief national gay representative, while Tinky Winky is the trendy 'in' celebrity." He also used the Post article to back his argument on "Today" Thursday morning.
The piece was not an editorial -- the Washington Post editorial board tends to ignore Ellen DeGeneres' hipness, or lack of it. It was the Post's Style section's annual In/Out list, which runs every Jan. 1 and gauges the culture from inside the Beltway.
When writing the list, I put Ellen and her girlfriend, actress Anne Heche, in the "Out" column, figuring that everyone had tired of the lesbian power couple. I considered using Rupert Everett as the corresponding "In" item. But then I remembered how Tinky Winky, because his size and voice are vaguely masculine and he often carries a red purse, had become a camp icon among gay viewers here and in Britain. (In fact, Salon's Joyce Millman had written about Tinky Winky's gay fans over a year ago.) Tinky Winky is obviously not homosexual, by any stretch of the imagination, but he possesses a few effeminate characteristics (he also likes to wear a tutu on occasion). It's amusing to label him gay simply because the idea of homosexuality -- or any sexuality -- is completely incomprehensible and irrelevant in Teletubbyland, an idyllic countryside populated by giant rabbits, a friendly vacuum cleaner and a sun with the face of a baby.
When my piece came out, E! Online picked up the story, saying the Washington Post had outed Tinky Winky by declaring him "in." I had assumed it was a commonly known joke. But the story didn't reach ridiculous proportions until this week, when Falwell stepped in, contributing his own evidence that Tinky's creators have fashioned a gay role model: His antenna is triangle-shaped -- the gay-pride symbol. And his skin is purple -- the gay-pride color. Barney the Dinosaur must be a raging queen.
Gay folks tend to joke around by becoming fans of unlikely icons. (Falwell didn't understand that.) Tammy Faye Bakker, for instance, is beloved by many a drag queen. And speaking of drag queens, I knew one in Birmingham who used to drive all the way to Selma just to shop at Anita Bryant's dress shop.
Falwell could have chastized both of them--Tammy Faye for inspiring drag queens to use too much eye-liner and Anita Bryant for selling them dresses and, no doubt, accessories.
In my local region, there's a religious broadcasting channel. On it is a motherly woman name Arlene who has a cooking show. Cuisine Arlene relies primarily on lots of butter, enough to clog your arteries until Armageddon. And she's so sweet (if fanatically religious) that she's become an unintentional camp heroine to some local gay men who make a point to watch Arlene's Kitchen. If she only knew....
A big part of the humor resides in turning someone who is probably not gay, possibly downright homophobic, into a gay-friendly figure--sometimes even, for the sheer fun of it, reading into their behavior winks and nods to gay viewers. So the whole "Tinky Winky is gay!" thing that Falwell hilariously took seriously had its roots in the subversive humor of the gay community. Falwell didn't get the joke.