Friday, May 18, 2007

Tinky Winky says bye-bye to Jerry Falwell

The former TV star recalls the trauma of being called gay by the conservative preacher.

By King Kaufman

May 16, 2007 Eight years ago the Rev. Jerry Falwell warned parents that BBC children's television star Tinky Winky was a hidden symbol of homosexuality. Falwell died Tuesday at 73, and the world wanted to talk to Tinky Winky.

"They're calling again, again, again," he said by phone from his home in Islington, in London. A spokesman said the former "Teletubbies" costar got more than 100 calls from reporters in the hour following news of Falwell's death.

"Oh dear, it's easy to say the wrong thing here," he said. "Tinky Winky sad whenever someone dies, but ..." He left it hanging there.

In a 1999 article in his National Liberty Journal headlined "Tinky Winky Comes Out of the Closet," Falwell pointed out that Winky could be taken as representing gays.

"He is purple -- the gay pride color, and his antenna is shaped like a triangle -- the gay pride symbol," Falwell wrote. "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."

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