Documentary on OneBenjy the Little Gay Bull

As heard on Documentary On One

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In autumn 2014 a small article appeared in a provincial newspaper. It was about a farm in county Mayo and a little Charolais bull who was not performing as he should.

Near the town of Kiltimagh, farmer Joe Kelly’s expensive new breeding bull was ignoring the herd of beautiful cows and was instead cavorting in the fields with a younger male calf. With no cows pregnant, Joe’s gay bull had to be replaced and the only way to recoup the price of a costly non-working bull was via the slaughterhouse.

Freelance journalist Joanna McNicholas had stumbled upon this story when she was chatting to Joe – an old friend of hers – and submitted it to the Connaught Telegraph.

Little did Joe and Joanna know that this quirky little article would go viral within a few days and result in a global campaign to try to save Benjy the gay bull from the butcher.

To add to the intrigue of the story, Joe had allowed Joanna to write the article on strict condition that he remain anonymous.  As the world’s media hunted for the elusive Benjy, only a handful of people knew his secret hideout. Over the following six weeks the bull’s location was kept a fiercely guarded secret, while behind the scenes conflict arose between those involved in the fundraising campaigns.

Animal rights and LGBT rights activists came together to campaign to save Benjy from execution and when co-founder of The Simpsons, Sam Simon, became involved, the story of this doomed little bull in county Mayo went completely global.

The story was a quirky one that caught the eyes of many, but it also raised the question – can animals really be gay?

Five years later and there’s rarely a mention of Benjy now. The Documentary on One sets out to find out what happened to Benjy the gay bull and to see if the celebrity Charolais is still alive.

For more information about Hillside Animal Sanctuary, please click here and about TheGayUK, please click here.

Narrated by Doireann Garrihy.

Produced by Joanna McNicholas and Nicoline Greer.

© The Listener 2019

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