Table of Contents

based on: The White Crane Institute's 'Gay Wisdom', Gay Birthdays, Gay For Today, Famous GLBT, glbt-Gay Encylopedia, Today in Gay History, Wikipedia, and more …

Collected by Ted

May 31

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1718Pennsylvania reinstates the death penalty for sodomy.


1819Walt Whitman (d.1892), prophetic poet of Democracy and fluency and America, of Leaves of Grass and the Calamus cluster of poems, lover of Peter Doyle and other men, was born on this date. His work is controversial, particularly his poetry collection Leaves of Grass, which has been described as obscene for its overt homoerotic sexuality.

Born on Long Island, Whitman worked as a journalist, a teacher, a government clerk, and - in addition to publishing his poetry - was a volunteer nurse during the American Civil War. Early in his career, he also produced a temperance novel, Franklin Evans (1842). Whitman's major work, Leaves of Grass, was first published in 1855 with his own money. The work was an attempt at reaching out to the common person with an American epic. He continued expanding and revising it until his death in 1892. After a stroke towards the end of his life, he moved to Camden, New Jersey, where his health further declined. He died at age 72 and his funeral became a public spectacle.

Proclaimed the "greatest of all American poets" by many foreign observers a mere four years after his death, he is also viewed as the first urban poet. He was a part of the transition between Transcendentalism and Realism, incorporating both views in his works. His works have even been translated into more than 25 languages and he was an early and profound inspiration to many of the earliest Gay theorists, including Edward Carpenter who carried on a correspondence with him and visited Whitman in his Camden, New Jersey home twice. He was also visited by Oscar Wilde and many others interested in meeting this sage poet of life.

Whitman's sexuality is often discussed alongside his poetry. Though biographers continue to debate his sexuality, he is usually described as either homosexual or bisexual in his feelings and attractions. However, there is disagreement among biographers as to whether Whitman had actual sexual experiences with men.

Whitman had intense friendships with many men and boys throughout his life. Some biographers have claimed that he may not have actually engaged in sexual relationships with males, while others cite letters, journal entries and other sources which they claim as proof of the sexual nature of some of his relationships.

Peter Doyle may be the most likely candidate for the love of Whitman's life, according to biographer David S. Reynolds. Doyle was a bus conductor whom Whitman met around 1866 and the two were inseparable for several years. Interviewed in 1895, Doyle said: "We were familiar at once — I put my hand on his knee — we understood. He did not get out at the end of the trip — in fact went all the way back with me."

A more direct second-hand account comes from Oscar Wilde. Wilde met Whitman in America in 1882 and wrote to the homosexual rights activist George Cecil Ives that there was "no doubt" about the great American poet's sexual orientation — "I have the kiss of Walt Whitman still on my lips," he boasted.

The only explicit description of Whitman's sexual activities is second hand. In 1924 Edward Carpenter, then an old man, described an erotic encounter he had had in his youth with Whitman to Gavin Arthur, who recorded it in detail in his journal. Late in his life, when Whitman was asked outright if his series of "Calamus" poems were homosexual, he chose not to respond.

Another possible lover was Bill Duckett. As a young teenage boy he lived in on the same street in Camden and moved in with Whitman, living with him a number of years and serving him in various roles. Duckett was fifteen when Whitman bought his house at 328 Mickle Street. Their relationship was close, with the youth sharing Whitman's money when he had it. Whitman described their friendship as "thick." Though some biographers describe him as a boarder, others identify him as a lover. A photograph of the two is described as "modeled on the conventions of a marriage portrait," part of a series of portraits of the poet with his young male friends, and encrypting male-male desire.

Yet another intense relationship with a young man was the one with Harry Stafford, with whose family he stayed when at Timber Creek, and whom he first met when the young man was 18, in 1876. Whitman gave young Stafford a ring, which was returned and given back over the course of a stormy relationship lasting a number of years. Of that ring Stafford wrote to Whitman, "You know when you put it on there was but one thing to part it from me, and that was death."

Walt Whitman has been claimed as the "poet of democracy", a title meant to reflect his ability to write in a singularly American character. A British friend of Walt Whitman, Mary Smith Whitall Costelloe, wrote:
"You cannot really understand America without Walt Whitman, without Leaves of Grass... He has expressed that civilization, 'up to date,' as he would say, and no student of the philosophy of history can do without him."

Modernist poet Ezra Pound called Whitman "America's poet... He is America." Andrew Carnegie called him "the great poet of America so far".

Whitman's vagabond lifestyle was adopted by the Beat movement and its leaders such as Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac in the 1950s and 1960s as well as anti-war poets like Adrienne Rich and Gary Snyder. Whitman even influenced Bram Stoker, author of Dracula, and was the model for the character of Dracula! Stoker said in his notes that Dracula represented the quintessential male which, to Stoker, was Whitman, with whom he corresponded until Whitman's death.

1852 Indiana abrogates common-law crimes, thus legalizing sodomy in the state.

1901 – Sixteen-year-old Joseph Flaherty is committed to an insane asylum in Utah for engaging in sodomy. He is released after eight months.

1905 – In Germany on this date a debate took place in the Reichstag on homosexual rights and the repeal of Germany's sodomy laws.

 Added 2023


1918 – Robert Booth Bob Hull (d.1962) was a founding member of the Mattachine Society in Los Angeles with Harry Hay, Chuck Rowland, Dale Jennings, and Rudi Gernreich. The Mattachine set the stage for the gay liberation activism of the 1960s and 1970s, but because of his suicide in 1962, Hull wouldn’t see the movements, marches, and militancy that would soon follow.

Bob Hull grew up in St. Louis Park, Hennepin County, Minnesota. His classmates’ memories of him vary. Hull was different from other boys, engaging with girls without pursuing them. He was third in his class of 67 and was a talented pianist and organist, performing a challenging Chopin Ballade at commencement. Following the death of his father, Hull’s education was bankrolled by another prominent Park resident, Maurice H. Graham, an inventor for Toastmaster.

While Graham had hoped Hull would major in science, Hull’s friend David Jenkins, who as David Lloyd had a career as an operatic tenor, urged Hull towards music. Hull began college in June 1937, but after three terms at the Minneapolis College of Music, 1938–39, Hull abruptly transferred in January 1940 to the University of Minnesota’s chemistry program. Before long, a friend of Hull’s who taught music in Gary, South Dakota, visited Minneapolis with a fellow teacher, Charles “Chuck” Rowland, who four decades later founded L.A.’s gay-oriented Celebration Theatre.

By 1941 Rowland was a boarder in Hull’s house; they had a brief romantic relationship, remaining friends until Hull’s death. While Hull was exempted from military service by admitting his homosexuality, Rowland eagerly entered the army. Upon discharge, Rowland organized full-time from his parents’ home in South Dakota for the American Veterans Committee, and later for the Communist Party in Minneapolis. Hull also joined the CP, contributing his musicianship to party functions.

After his CP job was defunded, Rowland left the party, and moved to Los Angeles in early 1949. Hull followed that summer, retaining his membership, and performing in July at a CP front group’s concert. Early on he met and bonded with Stan Witt, himself a brilliant, Julliard-trained pianist. As early as that fall Hull began taking music history classes taught by Harry Hay at the CP’s California Labor School. The next summer saw Hull being appointed organizational secretary of his party club in June, only to be expelled by August for his homosexuality.

On July 8 Hay met future fashion icon Rudi Gernreich, and after comparing notes about the need for a gay civil rights organization the two canvassed gay beaches to test the waters under the guise of collecting signatures for the Stockholm Peace Appeal, which called for a nuclear weapons ban. That appeal, begun in March, took on new meaning with the June 25 start of the Korean War, causing Hull and Rowland to relocate to Mexico in July to avoid any wartime roundup of subversives. They quickly returned to Los Angeles, however, and were approached by Hay, who had crafted a prospectus for a “service and welfare organization devoted to the protection and improvement of Society’s Androgynous Minority.” It was well received. Hull, Rowland, and Hull’s current beau and future novelist Dale Jennings, met with Hay and Gernreich on Saturday, November 11, 1950, Armistice Day. The Mattachine Society was formed.

Pivotal for Hull, post-Mattachine (in late 1954), was meeting his romantic partner of the next seven years, who has requested anonymity. Hull and his lover enjoyed outdoor camping, performing chamber music, and spending holidays with Hull’s relatives and with his mother, Elsie, who was accepting and, in fact, considered Hull’s partner to be a second son.

Bob Hull is described by this lover, who is a psychologist, as being a depressed type. During years in therapy, Hull’s psychiatrist actually used an amphetamine-type stimulant in their sessions to overcome Hull’s reluctance to open up. After these sessions, Hull drank alcohol to come down — an emotional and psychological seesawing routine that, undertaken on a regular basis, surely took a toll. When his partner separated from Hull for personal reasons in early 1962, Hull faced either living alone, which he couldn’t abide, or seeking out a new mate, which he found daunting as he approached middle age. Although his friend Stan Witt stood by him, Hull allowed a crippling introversion, and an aversion to confrontation —nurtured in childhood by his excessively pacific mother — to prevail. Not long after finding himself single, Bob Hull killed himself. It was May 1, 1962—International Workers’ Day.


1922 – The British actor Denholm Elliott was born (d.1992). Born Denholm Mitchell Elliott in Ealing, London, England, he is best known for his roles in Trading Places and the Indiana Jones movies.

After making his film debut in Dear Mr. Prohack (1949), he went on to play a wide range of parts, often such ineffectual and occasionally seedy characters as the journalist Bayliss in Defence of the Realm, the abortionist in Alfie, and the washed-up film director in The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz. In the 1980s, he won three consecutive British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) awards—Best Supporting Actor for Trading Places as Dan Aykroyd's kindly butler, A Private Function, and Defence of the Realm — as well as an Academy Award nomination for A Room with a View. He also became familiar to a wider audience as the well meaning but addlepated Dr. Marcus Brody in Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (a photograph of his character appears in the fourth installment, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and a reference is made to Brody's death).

In 1988, Elliott was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his services to acting. His career included many stage performances, including with the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Privately bisexual, Elliott was married twice, the first time to the British actress Virginia McKenna for a few months in 1954 and the second time in an open marriage to actress Susan Robinson. Elliott was diagnosed with HIV in 1987 and died of AIDS-related tuberculosis at his home on Ibiza, Spain, in 1992. He was cremated. His widow Susan Robinson Elliott set up a charity, the Denholm Elliott Project, in his honour and collaborated on his biography.


1923 Ellsworth Kelly (d.2015) was an American painter, sculptor, and printmaker associated with Hard-edge painting, Color Field painting and the Minimalist school. Kelly often employed bright colors to enhance his works.

As a boy, he lived near the Oradell Reservoir, New Jersey, where his grandmother introduced him to bird watching at the age of eight or nine. This is where he developed his passion for form and color. He studied the works of Louis Agassiz Fuertes and John James Audubon. Audubon had a particularly strong influence on Kelly's work throughout his career. Author E.C. Goossen speculates that the two and three-color paintings for which Kelly is so well known can be traced to his bird watching, and his acquaintance with the two and three-color birds he so frequently watched. Kelly has said he was constantly alone as a young boy and became somewhat of a "loner". He was also afflicted by a slight stutter that persisted into his teenage years.

Drafted into the U.S military service in 1943 he was assigned to the 603rd Engineers Camouflage Battalion, which was normal for artists at the time to do. During World War II, he served, alongside other artists and designers, in a deception unit known as The Ghost Army. The Ghost soldiers used inflatable tanks, trucks, and other elements of subterfuge to mislead the Axis forces about the direction and disposition of Allied forces. His exposure to the visual art of camouflage can be seen as part of his basic training.

At the end of World War II, Kelly took advantage of the G.I. Bill education provisions to study from 1946 to 1947 at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and then at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. He got to know John Cage, Merce Cunningham, the Surrealist artist Jean Arp and the abstract sculptor Constantin Brancusi.

Kelly decided to return to America in 1954 after being abroad for six years. His first show was at Betty Parsons' Gallery in the fall of 1957. He had three pieces, Atlantic, Bar, and Painting in Three Panels selected and shown for the Whitney Museum of American Art's show "Young America 1957." His pieces were considered radically different from the other twenty-nine artists' work. Painting in Three Panels, for example, was particularly noted and questioned for the idea of having more than one canvas used to create one piece was unheard of at this time.

Many of his paintings consist of a single (usually bright) color, with some canvases being of irregular shape, sometimes called "shaped canvases." The quality of line seen in his paintings and in the form of his shaped canvases is very subtle, and implies perfection. Kelly was exposed to and influenced by the camouflage with which his specific battalion worked while serving time in the army. This helped enlighten him on the use of form and shadow as well as the construction and deconstruction of the visible.

Ellsworth Kelly lived and worked in Spencertown, New York. From 1984 until his death, Kelly lived with his husband, photographer Jack Shear, who serves as the director of the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation. A profile in the New Yorker wrote of his life with his longtime partner Shear.


1928Édouard Molinaro (d.2013) was a French film director and screenwriter.

He is best known for his comedies with Louis de Funès (Oscar, etc.), My Uncle Benjamin (with Jacques Brel and Claude Jade), Dracula and Son (with Christopher Lee), and the Academy Award-nominated La Cage aux Folles (with Michel Serrault and Ugo Tognazzi).

Although he was well established in France before "La Cage Aux Folles," American audiences didn't know much of him until his madcap tale of a gay couple and their drag nightclub – La Cage Aux Folles, or, the Cage of Crazies, on the French Riviera.

When the film came to the U.S. in 1979, singer Anita Bryant had become nationally known for her condemnation of homosexuality. A year earlier, San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk, who was gay, had been gunned down at City Hall. "La Cage," though criticized in the gay press for its cliche drag queens, offered what was widely seen as a comic antidote to the venomous rhetoric of the day.

That was Molinaro's aim when he chose to make a movie version of French playwright Jean Poiret's stage play, which ran for five years in Paris before the movie opened in France.

"To make a comedy enabled me to tackle the question in a non-racist way – so people would laugh with, not at, homosexuals," he told the New York Times in 1981.

Molinaro was active as a director until a few years before his death, although he had almost exclusively been producing works for television.

1933 – The psychoanalyst Dr. A.A. Brill presented a paper at a joint meeting of the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychoanalytic Association in Boston on homosexuality and paranoia. He stressed that homosexuality was part of the normal sexual instinct and plays a useful part in social relationships, and that homosexuality was only pathological when combined with adjustment difficulties. However, he also equated homosexuality with paranoia by saying homosexuals experienced delusions of persecution. (Now why would that be?)


1945Rainer Werner Maria Fassbinder was born in Bad Worishofen, Germany (d.1982). He was a German movie director, screenwriter, and actor. He was one of the most important representatives of the New German Cinema.

He maintained a frenetic pace in film-making. In a professional career that lasted less than fifteen years, Fassbinder completed 40 feature length films; two television film series; three short films; four video productions; twenty-four stage plays and four radio plays; and 36 acting roles in his own and others' films. He also worked as an actor (film and theater), author, cameraman, composer, designer, editor, producer and theater manager.

Early in his adolescence, Fassbinder identified himself as homosexual. From 1964-1966, attended the Fridl-Leonhard Studio for actors in Munich. Around this timemade two short films,The City Tramp (Der Stadtstreicher, 1965) and The Little Chaos (Das Kleine Chaos, 1966). Shot in black and white, they were financed by Fassbinder's lover, Christoph Roser, an aspiring actor, in exchange for leading roles. Fassbinder acted in both of these films which also featured Irm Hermann.

By 1976, Fassbinder had gained international prominence, prizes at major film festivals, premieres and retrospectives in Paris, New York, Los Angeles and a study of his work by Tony Rayns was published, all helped make him a familiar name among cinephiles and campus audiences throughout the world. He lived in Munich when not traveling, rented a house in Paris (with ex-wife Ingrid Caven) and could be seen in gay bars in New York, earning him cult hero status, but also a controversial reputation in and out of his films.

Fassbinder was entangled in multiple relationships with women, but more often with men. His life, always well publicized, met with gossip and media scandal. Mixing his personal and professional lives, family, friends and lovers appeared in his films. Early in his career, he had a lasting, but fractured relationship with Irm Hermann, a former secretary whom he forced to become an actress.

Fassbinder's main romantic interest during his early period as a film director was Günther Kaufmann, a black Bavarian. Kaufmann was not a trained actor and entered cinema when, in 1969, Fassbinder fell madly in love with him. The director tried to buy his love with movie roles and expensive gifts; Kaufmann managed to destroy four Lamborghinis in a year. Like Salem, Fassbinder's next male partner, he was married and the father of two children. He appeared in fourteen of Fassbinder's films, having the leading role in Whity (1971).

In 1970 Fassbinder married Ingrid Caven, a regular actress in his films. Their wedding reception was recycled in the film he was making at that time, The American Soldier. Their relationship of mutual admiration survived the complete failure of their two-year marriage. "Ours was a love story in spite of the marriage," Ingrid explained in an interview, adding about her former husband's sexuality: "Rainer was a homosexual who also needed a woman. It's that simple and that complex." The three most important women of Fassbinder's life, Irm Hermann, Ingrid Caven and Juliane Lorenz, his last partner, were not disturbed by his homosexuality.

In 1971, Fassbinder fell in love with El Hedi ben Salem (c.1935-82), a Berber from Morocco. Their turbulent relationship ended violently in 1974. Salem, cast as Ali in Fear Eats the Soul, hanged himself in jail in 1982. Fassbinder, who barely outlived his former lover, dedicated his last film, Querelle, to Salem.

Armin Meier (1943-78), a former butcher who was almost illiterate and who had spent his early years in an orphanage, was Fassbinder's lover from 1974 to 1978. He also appeared in several Fassbinder films in this period. A glimpse into their troubled relationship can be seen in Fassbinder's episode for Germany in Autumn (1978). After Fassbinder broke up with him, Meier committed suicide on Fassbinder's birthday. He was found dead in their apartment only days later.

In the last four years of his life, Fassbinder's companion was Juliane Lorenz (b.1957), the editor of his films during this period. She can be seen in a small role as the film producer's secretary in Veronika Voss. According to Lorenz, they considered getting married, but never did so. Although they were drifting apart in his last year, they were still living together at the time of his death.

Fassbinder died at the age of 37 from heart failure resulting from a lethal interaction between sleeping pills and cocaine. His death is often considered to mark the end of the New German Cinema.

1951 – The Universal Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) becomes effective and includes a sodomy provision for all members of the U.S. military.

1960 – The Colorado Supreme Court overturns the sodomy conviction of two men, saying that there was no evidence the crime actually occurred. It uses the euphemistic term "statutory offense" to describe their crime.


1965 Todd McKenney is an Australian entertainer. He is best known as a judge on Australia's version of Dancing with the Stars.

McKenney grew up in Perth, where his father was a jail warden and his mother a dance teacher. They separated when he was 9. He began his entertainment career on a children's television show as Percy Penguin.

He has won many dancing titles, and has trained in jazz, tap, acrobatics and ballroom dancing. He has performed on stage since at least 1984 in such productions as 42nd Street, The Pirates of Penzance, Strictly Ballroom, La Cage aux Folles, Singin' in the Rain, and most recently Priscilla Queen of the Desert - the Musical.

He rose to fame when he took the lead role in The Boy from Oz as Peter Allen. He performed the role 766 times between 1998 and 2000, however when the production went to Broadway in 2003, Hugh Jackman landed the role over McKenney.

He is openly gay, but has a daughter (who was conceived via IVF) with his best friend Anne Wood.

1977Arizona passes a new criminal code that abrogates common-law crimes and reduces the penalty for sodomy from a felony to a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of 60 days in jail and/or a $250 fine.

1982 The Body Politic and three officers of Pink Triangle Press go on trial in a Toronto Provincial Court a second time to face charges of using the mails to transmit immoral and indecent material.

1985 – The United Way of the Texas Gulf Coast rejected a grant application from the AIDS Foundation of Houston and announced it would not fund AIDS related projects.


1989 –Pablo Moreno de Alborán Ferrándiz, popularly known as Pablo Alborán, born 31 May 1989 in Málaga, Spain, is a Spanish musician, singer, and songwriter.

In 2011, he was nominated for three Latin Grammy Awards. Alborán has released three studio albums, two live albums, and various musical collaborations. His records are distributed by Warner Music which debuted in 2010 with their first official release, "Solamente Tú", the first single from his debut album Pablo Alboran (2011), released in February 2011. The album ranked No. 1 in its first week of sales, making Alborán the first solo artist to sign a complete debut album to rank to the top since 1998 in Spain.

A few months after releasing his first album, it was published in acoustic as the first recorded live concert by the singer. Several weeks after it debuted to the top in Spain, it was launched in Portugal, getting to be No. 1 for several weeks. Of all his singles, two stand out in terms of popularity: "Solamente tú" and "Perdóname" which he sang together with singer Carminho, being number one in sales, both in Spain and in Portugal.

From a very young age, he was interested in learning to play various musical instruments such as piano, classical guitar, flamenco guitar, and acoustic guitar, and attended singing lessons with professional artists in Málaga and Madrid. In 2002, at the age of 12, he composed his first songs, "Amor de Barrio" (Neighbourhood Love) and "Desencuentro" (Disagreement) which would be featured 10 years later on his debut album.

In Málaga he performed for the first time with a Flamenco band in a restaurant, and he was nicknamed El Blanco Moreno (The White Moreno), because he "was very pale-skinned and Moreno was my family name", as he stated in an interview in early 2011. Later, Pablo met producer Manuel Illán and recorded a demo, which included a cover of "Deja de Volverme Loca" (Stop Driving Me Crazy) by Diana Navarro. Upon hearing this recording, Navarro expressed great interest in Alborán and became his musical mentor.

Alborán is the son of Spanish architect Salvador Moreno de Alborán Peralta.

On 17 June 2020, Alborán came out as gay. In a three-minute video posted to Instagram, the Spanish crooner came out as gay, reminding fans that he's always fought against every manifestation that prohibits or embarrasses any freedom or equality, from racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia and any other type of hatred.

"Today, I want my voice to be louder and for it to have more value and weight. I'm here to tell you that I am homosexual and it's okay," Alborán expressed. "Life goes on, everything will remain the same, but I'm going to be a little happier than I already am."

2005 – The right-wing fundamentalist group American Family Association launched a nationwide boycott of Ford Motor Company in retaliation for Ford support of LGBT issues.

2012 – Same-sex marriage is approved unanimously by the Conservative Jewish movement, allowing U.S. rabbis to perform same-sex weddings. Two model wedding ceremonies are approved along with guidelines for same-sex divorce. Called the "Covenant of Loving Partners," the Conservative same-sex marriage document bases the ceremonies on Jewish partnership law. In the covenant, the couple pledges to be faithful and a ring ceremony binds the pair.

2014Cyprus: More than 3500 people march through the nation’s capital of Nicosia in the first Cypress pride parade as police blocked a small contingent of Eastern Orthodox Christian protesters from entering the celebration grounds. Homosexuality was decriminalized in most of Cyprus in 1998, though the jurisdiction of Northern Cyprus — formally known as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus — did not repeal its colonial-era law against consensual gay sex until January 27 of 2014, making it the last European jurisdiction to abandon such laws.

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Today's Gay Wisdom:
Walt Whitman

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Recorders ages hence,
Come, I will take you down underneath this impassive exterior,
I will tell you what to say of me,
Publish my name and hang up my picture as that of the tenderest lover,
The friend the lover's portrait, of whom his friend his lover was fondest,
Who was not proud of his songs, but of the measureless ocean of love within him, and freely pour'd it forth, Who often walk'd lonesome walks thinking of his dear friends, his lovers,
Who pensive away from one he lov'd often lay sleepless and dissatisfied at night,
Who knew too well the sick, sick dread lest the one he lov'd might secretly be indifferent to him,
Whose happiest days were far away through fields, in woods, on hills,
he and another wandering hand in hand, they twain apart from other men,
Who oft as he saunter'd the streets curv'd with his arm the shoulder of his friend,
while the arm of his friend rested upon him also.

From The Calamus cluster of poems from his Leaves of Grass:
(these were first published 151 years ago this year!)

Whoever you are holding me now in hand,
Without one thing all will be useless,
I give you fair warning, before you attempt me further,
I am not what you supposed, but far different.

Who is he that would become my follower?
Who would sign himself a candidate for my affections? Are you he?

The way is suspicious -- the result slow, uncertain, may-be destructive;
You would have to give up all else -- I alone would expect to be your God, sole and exclusive,
Your novitiate would even then be long and exhausting,
The whole past theory of your life, and all conformity to the lives around you, would have to be abandoned;
Therefore release me now, before troubling yourself any further -- Let go your hand from my shoulders,
Put me down, and depart on your way.

Or else, only by stealth, in some wood, for trial,
Or back of a rock, in open air,
(for in any roofed room of a house I emerge not -- nor in company,
And in the libraries I lie as one dumb, a gawk, or unborn, or dead,)
But just possibly with you on a high hill -- first watching lest any person, for miles around, approach unawares,
Or possibly with you sailing at sea, or on the beach of the sea, or some quiet island,
Here to put your lips upon mine I permit you,
With the comrade's long-dwelling kiss, or the new husband's kiss,
For I am the new husband, and I am the comrade.

Another excerpt from Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass.

19 . I Sing the Body Electric


I SING the Body electric;
The armies of those I love engirth me, and I engirth them;
They will not let me off till I go with them, respond to them,
And discorrupt them, and charge them full with the charge of the Soul.

Was it doubted that those who corrupt their own bodies conceal themselves;
And if those who defile the living are as bad as they who defile the dead?
And if the body does not do as much as the Soul?
And if the body were not the Soul, what is the Soul?

The love of the Body of man or woman balks account—the body itself balks account;
That of the male is perfect, and that of the female is perfect.
The expression of the face balks account;

But the expression of a well-made man appears not only in his face;
It is in his limbs and joints also, it is curiously in the joints of his hips and wrists;
It is in his walk, the carriage of his neck, the flex of his waist and knees—dress does not hide him;
The strong, sweet, supple quality he has, strikes through the cotton and flannel;

To see him pass conveys as much as the best poem, perhaps more;

You linger to see his back, and the back of his neck and shoulder-side.

The sprawl and fulness of babes, the bosoms and heads of women, the folds of their dress, their style as we pass in the street, the contour of their shape downwards,

The swimmer naked in the swimming-bath, seen as he swims through the transparent green-shine, or lies with his face up, and rolls silently to and fro in the heave of the water,

The bending forward and backward of rowers in row-boats—the horseman in his saddle,

Girls, mothers, house-keepers, in all their performance,

The group of laborers seated at noon-time with their open dinner-kettles, and their wives waiting,

The female soothing a child—the farmer's daughter in the garden or cow-yard,

The young fellow hoeing corn—the sleigh-driver guiding his six horses through the crowd,

The wrestle of wrestlers, two apprentice-boys, quite grown, lusty, good-natured, native-born, out on the vacant lot at sundown, after work,
The coats and caps thrown down, the embrace of love and resistance,
The upper-hold and the under-hold, the hair rumpled over and blinding the eyes;

The march of firemen in their own costumes, the play of masculine muscle through clean-setting trowsers and waist-straps,
The slow return from the fire, the pause when the bell strikes suddenly again, and the listening on the alert,
The natural, perfect, varied attitudes—the bent head, the curv'd neck, and the counting;

Such-like I love—I loosen myself, pass freely, am at the mother's breast with the little child, Swim with the swimmers, wrestle with wrestlers, march in line with the firemen, and pause, listen, and count.

I know a man, a common farmer—the father of five sons;

And in them were the fathers of sons—and in them were the fathers of sons.

This man was of wonderful vigor, calmness, beauty of person;

The shape of his head, the pale yellow and white of his hair and beard, and the immeasurable meaning of his black eyes—the richness and breadth of his manners,

These I used to go and visit him to see—he was wise also;

He was six feet tall, he was over eighty years old—his sons were massive, clean, bearded, tan-faced, handsome;

They and his daughters loved him—all who saw him loved him;

They did not love him by allowance—they loved him with personal love;

He drank water only—the blood show'd like scarlet through the clear-brown skin of his face;

He was a frequent gunner and fisher—he sail'd his boat himself—he had a fine one presented to him by a ship-joiner—he had fowling-pieces, presented to him by men that loved him;

When he went with his five sons and many grand-sons to hunt or fish, you would pick him out as the most beautiful and vigorous of the gang.

You would wish long and long to be with him—you would wish to sit by him in the boat, that you and he might touch each other.

JUNE 1 →

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