Re: [AP Newswire] Tinky Winky Gets Outed.

(no name) ((no email))
Fri, 12 Feb 1999 11:13:18 -0600

It turns out Falwell's partially right, if mostly wrong, as usual. It seems
some gays consider Tinky-Winky to be one of them, even if that wasn't the
intent. But, it's old news. The attached article by Tribulationist Eric Zorn
has the scoop.

> My dearest Girly-Girly-201... I appreciate your genius. It's a shame not
> everyone on this list does.

Count me among the Girly-Girly-201 fans.


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Eric Zorn

The headline--"Parents Alert: Tinky Winky Comes Out of the
Closet,"--over the expose in this month's issue of Rev. Jerry
Falwell's National Liberty Journal is comically erroneous.

By many lights, Tinky Winky has never been in the closet. He's been as
out as a White Sox No. 9 hitter since "Teletubbies" went on the air
several years ago in England, when the British gay community quickly
recognized and celebrated him as one of their own.

Tinky Winky is the largest of the four cheerful, doughy characters
featured in a daily, half-hour public-TV show aimed at kids 2 and
under. All four communicate in parted baby talk, but where Dipsy, Laa
Laa and Po have the high, clear voices of children, Tinky Winky speaks
in reedy tones reminiscent of campy gay stereotypes.

Falwell's paper further observes that Mr. Winky, identified by male
pronouns (the Tubbies are covered with short, brightly-colored fur,
generally unclothed and exhibit no visible sexual characteristics),
carries a purse. Also, "he is purple--the gay-pride color; and his
antenna (growing from the top of his head) is shaped like a
triangle--the gay-pride symbol."

Itsy Bitsy Entertainment Co., the U.S. licensee for Teletubbies,
didn't return calls Wednesday, but a spokesman told the Associated
Press Tuesday that Falwell's claim was "outlandish . . . absurd and

Not to mention tardy. The program began airing in this country last
April, and in June the Advocate, a biweekly newsmagazine focusing on
gay and lesbian issues, featured a commentary approvingly headlined,
"Tinky Winky, Little Star."

The character "regularly carries a smart red handbag under his arm,"
noted writer Barry Walters. "The show offers no explanation why Tinky
Winky is so good at accessorizing. He's simply born (or hatched) that
way, it seems. Apparently Tinky Winky's purse is meant to show kids
that it's OK to take an interest in the accoutrements of the opposite
gender--that identity is something we should claim for ourselves and
not have thrust upon us. This is all well and good, but Tinky Winky
still comes across as a big, fabulous fag."

Out magazine raised the issue of Tinky Winky's sexual orientation in a
sidebar to its list of the "Out 100," and in April, Entertainment
Weekly quoted gay columnist Michael Musto of the Village Voice that
Tinky Winky was "the next step after Bert and Ernie" ("Sesame Street"
puppets whose roommate relationship some consider intriguing). Musto
said Tinky Winky is "out and proud" and sends "a great message to
kids--not only that it's OK to be gay, but the importance of being

"We haven't spoken to Tinky Winky directly, and so we don't presume to
know what his orientation may be," quipped Tracey Conaty, spokeswoman
for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in Washington. "However,
we think it's a great thing that the Teletubbies portray human
diversity and that children love the Teletubbies and appreciate the
diversity of expression that the Teletubbies represent."

Falwell issued a statement Tuesday that said, "As a Christian I feel
that role modeling the gay lifestyle is damaging to the moral lives of

Tinky Winky is gentle, affectionate, playful, courteous and, yes, not
particularly butch. In the many episodes I have seen in the company of
my family's 20-month-old "Teletubbies" devotees, I have never seen him
evince a special interest in Dipsy--the other male--or, indeed, do
anything to violate scripture.

"I doubt that the Teletubbies' target audience would even notice those
things or associate them with sexuality," said Winnetka-based
developmental psychologist Jeanne Beckman, who is otherwise no fan of
the show and has written papers arguing that it "provides no
educational or emotional benefit for infants and toddlers."

Beckman said Falwell is injecting an "adult issue" where it doesn't
belong, and that the consensus of mental heath professionals is that
such imagery would have no influence on sexual identity.

Tinky Winky has not yet caught on as a gay-pride icon in the Chicago
area, according to the observations of Louis Weisberg, metro news
editor of the Windy City Times, and clerks at the Gay Mart and We're
Everywhere souvenir/novelty shops.

Let's hope he doesn't. Tinky Winky should belong to those of all
orientations who don't want their appearance or mannerisms defined,
limited or scorned by the likes of Jerry Falwell.