Gay History – February 9th: Irish Poet Brendan Behan, Marc ’10½’ Stevens, and Jerry Falwell Outs A Teletubby
1874 – Amy Lowell the American poet was born in Brookline. Massachusetts.
A militant literary leader she thumbed her nose at the Boston Brahmans who raised her and outed herself. Her lover was actress Ada Dwyer Russell whom she called “Peter.” Russell is reputed to be the subject of Lowell’s more erotic works, most notably the love poems contained in ‘Two Speak Together’, a subsection of Pictures of the Floating World. The two women traveled to England together, where Lowell met Ezra Pound, who at once became a major influence and a major critic of her work. Pound considered Lowell’s embrace of Imagism to be a kind of hi-jacking of the movement, and among his friends he referred to her as the “hippo-poetess”, because of her large body size. Lowell has been linked romantically to writer Mercedes de Acosta, but the only evidence of any contact between them is a brief correspondence about a planned memorial for Duse. Lowell was a short but imposing figure who kept her hair in a bun and wore a pince-nez.
1923 – Brendan Behan is born.
Behan was an Irish poet, short story writer, novelist, and playwright who wrote in both English and Irish. Born in Dublin into a republican family, he became a member of the IRA’s youth organisation Fianna Éireann at the age of fourteen. However, there was also a strong emphasis on Irish history and culture in the home, which meant he was steeped in literature and patriotic ballads from a tender age. Behan eventually joined the IRA at sixteen, which led to him serving time in a borstal youth prison in the United Kingdom (see “The Borstal Boy” ) and was also imprisoned in Republic of Ireland. During this time, he took it upon himself to study and he became a fluent speaker of the Irish language. Subsequently released from prison as part of a general amnesty given by the Fianna Fáil government in 1946, Behan moved between homes in Dublin, Kerry and Connemara and also resided in Paris for a period. Behan had married Beatrice Salkeld in 1955. A daughter, Blanaid, was born in 1963. This however, was not enough to bring Behan back from his alcoholic abyss. By early March 1964, the end was in sight. Collapsing at the Harbour Lights bar, he was transferred to the Meath Hospital in central Dublin, where he died, aged 41.
The family of Brendan Behan claim that he was bisexual all of his life, but he kept it quiet for his families sake.
1943 – Marc Stevens
Mark ’10½’ Stevens was a pioneering bisexual sex industry figure during the 1970s in New York City. He appeared in over 80 pornographic movies, and he also led an erotic dance troupe and performed in live sex shows. While he predominantly appeared in heterosexual films and loops, he made a number of gay movies as well. He was a close associate of leading sex industry figures such as Jason & Tina Russell, Annie Sprinkle, who was also his neighbor for a time, Sharon Mitchell, Jamie Gillis, Georgina Spelvin and Gloria Leonard. Tall and lean with a well-defined musculature, he had the nickname “10½” because of the size of his rather large circumcised penis
Stevens passed away of AIDS in 1989 at age 46
1971 – Barely a month after All in the Family takes to the air Archie discovers that one of his bar buddies, an ex-football player, is gay. This is the first instance in which a network television program aired a positive plotline involving a gay issue.
According to scholar Larry Gross, in his book Up from Invisibility: Lesbians, Gay Men, and the Media in America, the episode also opened the door for other programs such as Soap, later in the 1970s, and Dynasty, in the 1980s, that included recurring gay characters in their casts. And Gross further observes that this progress ultimately laid the groundwork for the programs with gay characters-some of them in leading roles-that are appearing on the small screen today.
1999 – The leader of the “moral majority” and founder of the anti-gay hate bastian Liberty Universality the “Reverend” Jerry Falwell claims that the purple-colored Teletubby named Tinky-Wink is gay.
Writing in the February issue of his magazine, National Liberty Journal, Falwell said the creators of the program intended for Tinky Winky to be a gay role model.
”He is purple — the gay-pride color; and his antenna is shaped like a triangle — the gay-pride symbol,” he wrote adding : “The character, whose voice is that of a boy, has been found carrying a red purse in many episodes and has become a favorite character among gay groups worldwide.”
“I’m not going to pretend I’m sadder than I am,” he says. “There were late nights during the dark times when I wished to hear news like this. I’d be lying if I denied that. I don’t feel that way anymore. I like to think I’ve grown over the years, gotten past all that pain.
“But at the end of the day, I’m not terribly sad, and I think a lot of people feel the same way. Jerry Falwell was a divisive person, a hateful person, and what I’ve tried to be all about, in the Teletubbies days and since then, has been love. I’ve got to keep it that way. I don’t want anybody feeling good about it when it’s my time for Tubby bye-bye.”
2009 – Domestic Partner Registry opens in Phoenix, Arizona, USA
2011 – A bill protecting the rights to freedom of gender expression and gender identity passes the House of Commons, amending the Canada Human Rights Code. This bill is intended to protect gender-variant individuals from discrimination.