Friday, September 11, 2009

Chararcter Research: Robin Tyler

Robin Tyler is a stand-up comic and a gay activist who has been working in both fields since the 1960s. Tyler was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, on April 8, 1942. In 1972 she moved to Toronto, and later New York City, where she performed stand-up comedy.In 1978, Tyler became the first out lesbian on U.S. national television on a Showtime comedy special, and released her comedy album, Always a Bridesmaid, Never a Groom. Some of Tyler's humor relied on "pro-gay" jokes to counteract the propensity of anti-gay humor. Tyler explains her first attempt at pro-gay humor: "I got up and did this joke about running into a right-wing guy and he said 'I think they should take all you queers and put you on an island someplace.' And I said 'They did, darling, and they call it Manhattan.'" Tyler continued to create jokes in which gays and lesbians were the subject of the humor instead of the object. Since that time, Tyler has used her comedy for the benefit of the gay rights movement. Tyler's humor is edgy and political. One of her most famous jokes answers the question of whether homosexuality is a disease. "If homosexuality is a disease," Tyler says, "let's all call in queer to work: 'Hello. Can't work today, still queer.'"

Tyler has has worked as a national event organizer since 1979 when she organized the first March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights which drew over 100,000 demonstrators to the Washington D.C. Since that time she has organized other marches, lesbian music festivals, and has fought for gay marriage rights. On February 12, 2004, Tyler and her partner, Diane Olson, the granddaughter of a former governor of California, filed the first lawsuit for marriage equality in the state of California. After gay marriage became legal, Tyler and Olson were the first same-sex couple to be married in Los Angeles. Tyler is executive direcgtor of the Equality Campaign and is working to make gay marriage legal again.

In the new version of her show, Always a Bridesmaid, Never a Groom, Tyler says, “We want marriage equality, that’s the front of the bus. The Democrats want us to have civil unions, or domestic partnership. That’s the back of the bus. The Republicans want us off the bus. And the radical religious right wants us under the bus.”

Click here to read Robin Robin Tyler's blog posts on

Robin Tyler speaks in Fresno at Meet in the Middle.

Robin Tyler on MSNBC

Robin Tyler works the crowd at the Resolution Action Fair.

Robin Tyler and her wife, Diane Olson, in a NO on 8 television spot


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