Walt Whitman was born in 1819 in Long Island. Receiving only five years of schooling, he apprenticed himself as a printer.
He recorded observations in notebooks, which evolved into the poems published in 1855, "Leaves of Grass." Because they lacked meter and rhyme, and because a number spoke of homosexual desire, the poems were considered scandalous.
While in Washington, Whitman met Peter Doyle, who said, "we were awful close together." Their relationship would last for the rest of Whitman's life.
Although Whitman remained closeted, he gave voice to same-sex desire, and inspired many in the modern gay rights movement.
Whitman's persona was best described by a fellow poet in 1882. Oscar Wilde said, "He is the grandest man I have ever seen, the simplest, most natural, and strongest character I have ever met in my life."
This Rainbow Minute was read by Mike Hinerman.
“The Rainbow Minute” is produced by Judd Proctor and Brian Burns and can be heard every weekday at 7:59am, 12:29pm and 2:59pm on WRIR – 97.3fm in Richmond, Virginia, and webcast at wrir.org. It’s also heard internationally on over 200 stations.