Friday 28 December 2012

On the 4th Gay Day of Christmas ...

… my blogger gave to me …


When I was growing up this verse always went “4 colley birds”. I couldn’t understand why people kept singing “4 calling birds”, and still don’t. Colley is a traditional English word meaning “black”, and a colley bird is another name for the common blackbird. My mother often used to refer to blackbirds as colley birds when she saw them in the garden.

Colley birds – blackbirds – were a delicacy at Christmas time and can also be found in the nursery rhyme “Sing a Song of Sixpence”.

There are other regional, dialect and slang words for the blackbird. So, on this 4th Day of Christmas I bring to you 4 lgbt people whose names are different names for the blackbird, my 4 gay colley birds.

FRANK MERLO (1922-1963)
(Merlo – the name for blackbird in Galician and Esperanto)
Long-term partner of playwright Tennessee Williams. They met in 1947 and became a couple a year later with Merlo becoming his personal assistant. Merlo is recognised as the key stabilising factor in William’s troubled life. During their time together Williams had his greatest successes. Merlo was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and Williams cared for him until his death in 1963.

MERLE WOO (b.1941)
(Merle – blackbird in Old English and Old French)
American-born activist and lecturer of mixed Asian heritage. Merle is often an outspoken critic on the portrayal and perception of Asian women. She has also written poetry and prose on the subject. Merle was twice fired from her post as lecturer at the University of California Berkeley, and both times was reinstated after winning free speech lawsuits.

MERYL COHN (b.1962)
(Meryl – 17th and 18th century variant of “merle”)
“Agony aunt” and advice columnist writing as Ms Behaviour. Her column is syndicated to several US lgbt newspapers and magazines. In 1995 Meryl published “Ms Behavior’s Guide to Gay and Lesbian Etiquette”, and has written several plays and many articles.

DARYL COLLEY (1971-2001)
(Colley – traditional English name for the blackbird)
Australian drag queen by the name of Rosie. Diagnosed HIV+ he also believed he had a brain tumour. He asked his lover Raymond to help him commit suicide because he didn’t want to be remembered as a “dribbling mess”. It was ruled that Daryl died from a self-administered drug overdose before Raymond attempted to suffocate him.

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