Monday, July 16, 2012

Andrew Sullivan: We've Already Had a Gay President: Abraham Lincoln

So he does not have a PhD in American history--take a listen to my man Sullivan for a moment:

I think that Sullivan is almost certainly correct. Lincoln shared a bed with Joshua Speed for years, long after both me could have afforded beds and rooms of their own.You will often hear this explained away as a common practice back in the day, and at crowded roadhouses or in army barracks this was true, but it was absolutely not common with two rising professionals who could have easily afforded their own rooms. And Lincoln also shared a bed with a man, Captain David Derickson, in the White House when he was president. There were rumors of homosexuality (though the term did not yet exist) during Lincoln's life. If it were any other 19th-century figure, we would take the same set of evidence as at least indicating a strong possibility that the subject was gay. 

I am very much reminded of the sexual relationship between Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemmings. Despite abundant evidence that the two had a long sexual relationship that produced children, the very idea was rejected outright by the Jefferson historical establishment until modern DNA analysis made it undeniable. Racism served as a historical blinder to seeing the truth that was right in front of us. The same is true of homophobia and Lincoln's gayness. 


Dave said...

Larry, I'm totally overwhelmed this summer: wife in Alaska; teaching at WSU and CBC; kids in summer sports (the bane--or is it Bain?--of my existence). Not writing blogs, or anything else, including a book review that is one month overdue already. All this is to say that I'm very much enjoying these posts because I would never run across any of this stuff without you posting it. So thanks! Keep it coming.

Larry Cebula said...

Thanks Dave!

I got in a discussion about this on Facebook, and found this page, which is a pretty deep examination of the friendship between Lincoln and Joshua Speed. The striking thing for me is how the quoted historians bend over backwards to come up with explanations that don't mention the possibility of romantic attraction. I mean, "mutual hypochondrianism?!"