A few years ago there was a huge controversy (as only the right wing evangelical lobby in America can create) that “outed” Tinky Winky (a character from teletubbies for the benefit of those without toddlers) as gay because he was a male that carried around a woman's handbag.The Christian right wing evangelist, Rev Jerry Falwell issued a warning to parents to shield their children from the corrupting influence from the character who is in fact a covert gay role model. I remember thinking at the time that it was hogwash and another example of people looking too deeply into simple things and seeing things that are not really there. Until yesterday, that is.
I overheard a conversation between my daughter (Siddiqa) and the maid and could tell immediately that the maid was in trouble. Siddiqa wanted to know why Tinky Winky carried a handbag if he was a boy. Siddiqa had obviouslly picked this up on her own because I cancelled all my subscriptions to right wing evangelical magazines around the time she was born. The maid, who was now watching the teletubbies for possibly the first time in her life (I hope she does not sue), tried to wrap her mind around what she was seeing and then tried answering. The ensuing conversation was hillarious and I let it go on for a while (cos I am a sadist at times) until I stepped in to resolve the issue. I have already been asked about god, death and what is wrong with people kissing on TV, if I am allowed to kiss her (I am still sidestepping that last one), so this would have been easy.
I explained that children can play with any toy when they are young i.e she plays with toy cars and some of her friends are boys who play with dolls and that there is nothing wrong with that. She accepted my answer but was still confused because Tinky Winky was not a child as he was big. I tried to argue that he is obviously a child which was easy to prove as he happened to be dancing an admittedly gay, child-like dance at the time. I asked her, “ Which grown up do you know that dances like that”, to which she immediately replied with a glint in her eye,
I was speechless but my wife's laughter from the kitchen ensured that there was no uncomfortable silence. I am beginning to think that the good Reverend was right in warning us parents about the corrupting influence of this character.