LGBT People of History 9 - Walt Whitman
Walter ‘Walt’ Whitman was way ahead of his time. Born in 1819, he was a writer, humanist and egalitarian. He was a pioneer of ‘free verse’. His collection of poems, ‘Leaves of Grass’, caused controversy due to its sexual themes.
He is assumed to have been homosexual or bisexual. He had many deep relationships with men during his lifetime. Possibly the most important to him was Peter Doyle, a bus conductor, who spent many years with Whitman. Bill Duckett was another young man with whom Whitman had a close relationship - indeed a photographic portrait of them depicts them as a ’married couple’. He also had a rather tempestuous relationship with Harry Stafford. Oscar Wilde met Whitman in 1882 and declared that ‘I have the kiss of Walt Whitman still on my lips!’
Walt Whitman’s legacy is secure having being mentioned positively by figures such as Andrew Carnegie, Bram Stoker, Ezra Pound and many, many influential figures of the last half of the 20th Century. His lifestyle became adopted by the beat movement such as Jack Kerouac in the 50s and 60s.
An annual holiday is held each year and is celebrated round about the poet's birthday.
He died in 1892.
Ian and Callum.
Thanks to Wikipedia.
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