Whitman's poems are true Americana, written from his personal experiences. His "Calamus" poems speak of homosexual desire, and profoundly influenced gay writers of the time like Edward Carpenter of England.
Carpenter, a spokesman for progressive causes at the time, lived openly with his male partner. He wrote his first letter to Whitman in 1874, applauding him for his profound influence in England, and for legitimizing his own love of men. They continued correspondence, later meeting in America. Profoundly inspired by Whitman's language and ideals, he completed his poem "Democracy" in 1883.
Whitman said, "The best of Carpenter is in humanity: he manages to stay with people: he is a university man yet managed to save himself in time."
Later in Carpenter's career, he was dubbed England's Whitman – to him, the ultimate compliment.
This Rainbow Minute was read by Michael Hinerman.
“The Rainbow Minute” is produced by Judd Proctor and Brian Burns and can be heard every weekday at 3:59am, 7:59am, 9:59am, 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.