On This Gay Day: Reverend Jerry Falwell got upset about Teletubbies

Religious leader Jerry Falwell declares Tinky Winky is gay

American religious leader Jerry Falwell declared on this day in 1999 that children’s television character Tinky Winky was gay.

Falwell claimed there were many signs that the purple Teletubby was a homosexual. The British TV series had taken the world by storm in the late 1990’s and it had found a loyal viewership not only with young children, but it was also a favourite with university students.

A 1998 article in Salon had noted that there were several signs that Tinky Winky might be gay, including he is purple, his antenna is shaped like a triangle and he carries a red handbag with him.

Televangelist Falwell said Tinky Winky was “role modeling the gay lifestyle is damaging to the moral lives of children.” The producers of the show called the claims absurd and insulting and argued that Tinky Winky was not carry a purse, but rather a magic bag.

“Tinky Winky is simply a sweet, technological baby with a magic bag.” the BBC said in 1999.

Falwell died suddenly in 2007 after suffering a heart attack. He had a long history of arguing against LGBTI rights and attacking gay people.

He claimed the HIV pandemic was God’s punishment on society for being accepting of homosexuality, “AIDS is not just God’s punishment for homosexuals, it is God’s punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals.” he said.

Tinky Winky is still working with children both on TV and at live shows.

Author Alice Walker was born on this day

Author Alice Walker was born on this day in 1944. Best known for the novel The Color Purple, Walker rarely discusses her private life but has previously described herself as bixsexual, although she really doesn’t like labels.

In the 1960’s she was married to civil rights lawyer Robert Leventhal, the couple divorced in 1976. In the mid-1990’s Walker was in a relationship with singer Tracy Chapman.

“It was delicious and lovely and wonderful and I totally enjoyed it and I was completely in love with her but it was not anybody’s business but ours.” Walker has said of the relationship.

The Color Purple tells the story of African-American women in rural Georgia in the 1930’s and includes a same-sex relationship. Released in 1982 it won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and has been adapted into a film and a musical.

Singer Holly Johnson celebrates his birthday today

Holly Johnson, who fronted 80’s band Frankie Goes to Hollywood, before launching a successful solo career, was born on this day in 1960. His birth name was William, but when he was 16 he started calling himself Holly, in honour of Andy Warhol luminary Holly Woodlawn.

In the mid-80’s Frankie Goes to Hollywood stormed the charts with a top selling album and four chart topping singles, Relax, Welcome to the Pleasuredome, Two Tribes and The Power of Love. Their first single Relax was famously banned by the BBC. The band’s second album Liverpool was not a success.

Johnson launched a succcessful solo career and has continued making music occasionally. In 1991 Johnson shared that he was HIV positive, and a few years later he penned his autobiography A Bone in My Flute. Alongside his music he has also become a successful painter.  

Johnson’s most recent record was 2014’s Europa. He chatted to OUTinPerth about making the album.

OIP Staff, this post was first published on 9th February 2020, and was subsequently updated.

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