Weekly Wire
Weekly Alibi Tinky Winky- Loud and Proud.

By Devin D. O'Leary

MARCH 1, 1999:  In early February, Rev. Jerry Falwell noticed what is apparently a raging religious crisis--namely, that Tinky Winky ain't the manliest of the Teletubbies. News reports had a field day, announcing that the Christian crusader and leader of the now-defunct Moral Majority had just "outed" one of the Teletubbies. Obviously, the combination of a fruity children's show character and an easily mocked religious blowhard proved far too tempting a story for most media outlets to pass up.

Now, of course, Falwell and his zealot brigade are backpedaling and claiming the entire scandal is the product of "the worst form of yellow journalism ... clearly designed to stereotype and damage Dr. Falwell." The flap started with a "Parent's Alert" in Falwell's National Liberty Journal. Senior Editor J.M. Smith actually penned the article, which states that the baby-talking Tink has "become a favorite character among gay groups worldwide." Smith went on to note that, "Further evidence that the creators of the series intend for Tinky Winky to be a gay character have surfaced. He is purple--the gay pride color; and his antenna is shaped like a triangle--the gay pride symbol."

It was also noted that Tinky Winky (who is referred to as male in the show) carries a red, patent leather purse. What further evidence does Falwell need that PBS is trying to corrupt the youth of America with their swishy role models? For their part, the Teletubbies creators, Itsy Bitsy Entertainment, claim that Tink's "purse" is actually a "magic bag." A spokesperson on Itsy Bitsy's behalf also called Falwell's claims "absurd and kind of offensive. ... To think we would be putting sexual innuendo in a children's show is kind of outlandish." Falwell isn't buying such "disingenuous and insufficient" explanations.

Indeed Tinky Winky has been adopted as a camp symbol by the gay community--thanks, in no small part, to the publicity generated by Dr. Falwell. In the wake of his "outing," the SF Chronicle reported that Tinky Winky is now the front runner in votes to be the Grand Marshal at this year's San Francisco Gay Pride Parade. PlanetOut magazine, a prominent gay publication, warned readers to be on the lookout for other soon-to-be-outed children's characters, including Bert and Ernie, Peppermint Patty, Snagglepuss and Velma from "Scooby Do."

But is prepubescent, genitalia-less Tinky Winky really gay? A quick trip to Tink's "official" biography on the BBC homepage (www.bbc.co.uk/education/teletubbies/activities/ tinkywinky.shtml) reveals only six cryptic sentences: "Tinky Winky is the biggest Teletubby. He is purple. He has a special song he loves to sing to himself: 'Pinkle Winkle Tinky Winky, Pinkle Winkle Tinky Winky.' Tinky Winky loves walking, marching, dancing and falling over. Tinky Winky's favourite thing is his special red bag. Tinky Winky loves big hugs best of all."

Is that so wrong?


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