Hit & Run

Was Honest Abe Gay?


That's the question of the moment, thanks to the publication of C.A. Tripp's The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln, which positst that the Railsplitter swung both ways.

Here' The Weekly Standard on the matter and here's Richard Brookhiser. Both pooh pooh the idea that Lincoln was indeed the first Log Cabin Republican in more ways than one.

Andrew Sullivan embraces the idea with Whitmanesque enthusiasm and actually raises a far more interesting question:

what's interesting to me is that even if you gloss all Lincoln's male relationships as homosocial or homoerotic rather than homosexual, they still paint a picture that would offend today's Republican establishment. Whatever Lincoln was, he was very at ease expressing love, intimacy, and affection for other men. The last thing he was was sexually prudish. His early doggerel poem about the progeny that results from anal sex with another man--he has the two men married no less!--would be regarded by today's conservatives as worthy of protest to the FCC.

But today's right-wingers are right about one thing. The truth about Lincoln--his unusual sexuality, his comfort with male-male love and sex--is not a truth today's Republican leaders want to hear. They are well-advised to attack and suppress it. They are more closely related to the forces Lincoln defeated than those he championed; and his candor, honesty, and brave forging of a homosocial and homoerotic life in plain sight would appall them. The real Lincoln is their greatest rebuke.

Whole thing here (reg. required).

Update: Here'a Wikipedia entry that includes a--or is it the?--gay Lincoln poem. A snippet:

But Billy has married a boy/
The girlies he had tried on every Side/
But none could he get to agree/
All was in vain he went home again/
And since that is married to Natty

NEXT: Let Me Repeat It One More Time

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  1. Let it not be said that Sullivan's divinely-inspired gift for broad generalizations has left him.

  2. Well there's also the issue of whether Lincoln was an atheist.

    One thing is for sure, neo-Confederates will use this "revelation" to support their despicable cause.

  3. "...neo-Confederates will use this "revelation" to support their despicable cause."

    True enough. The other "neo-cons" already hate both Lincoln and gays. The next issue of Southern Partisan should be interesting.

  4. So about this poem thing... Did Lincoln also refer to this "progeny" as "Santorum"?

  5. From Sullivan: "If America's greatest president was gay, it must play a part in the current discussion of gay equality in America."

    Did I miss the part where someone said that George Washington was gay, also?

  6. Lincoln instituted the first draft, the first income tax, paved the way for Bush's treatment of terrorism suspects, overthrew elected state legislatures, stripped people of their citizenship for disagreeing with him and waged a war that crippled a generation of Americans. All to protect the monied corporations that needed the southern cashcow. Face it, even if you think the south were fighting for a bad cause, so was the north.

  7. Did I miss the part where someone said that George Washington was gay, also?

    Wait, George Washington was gay?

    Wow. Santorum was right. Gays DO get their teeth removed for sex!

  8. I wonder if Lincoln dry humped the carpet like that guy up there.

  9. He'd have to be totally gay to make this video (safe for work, unless your boss doesn't like psycho-billy dance-punk).

  10. If the gays are going to claim Lincoln, are they going to claim Buchanan as well.

  11. Pat Buchanan is gay?

  12. MikeE,
    You forgot to mention he sent the black man (Buffalo Soilders) to kill the red man ( Plains Indians). He was for equal rights.

  13. Is nothing sacred?

    Next we'll find out Teddy Roosevelt was rough riding more than just horses.

  14. Everyone who ever wrote anything about anything is exactly what they wrote about. Especially doggerel. And especially whimsical-- it's all a way of coming out while staying in, you get it?

    Anyone who has ever had a friend of the same sex-- gay. Ever alone together? Having sex. Let's be frank: every time two people of any gender or age or anything are in each other's presence under any circumstances, and there are not witnesses there to prove otherwise, they're fiddling with each other's nethers.

    Have your eyes ever happened to catch photons which were reflected off the butt of someone of your gender-- you're gay, so just admit it. That's called 'checking him out', fella.

  15. Oh, God! I've been found out!

  16. Wait, I missed Andrew's question.

  17. He wasn't cute, so I don't care.

    When Johnny Depp starts writing poetry, call me.

  18. So now whenever any refers to "Lincoln's beard," I'm supposed to picture Mary Todd?

  19. joe,
    Now THAT'S funny!

    It's great to be back.

  20. Okay, so the reaction on the blogosphere so far seems to be:

    Lincoln was gay? That's great!
    Lincoln wasn't gay, to imply so is a slander!
    Lincoln was great, whether he was gay or straight.
    Lincoln was a disgrace, whether he was gay or not.

  21. E. Steven:

    Put me down for option #4.

  22. Sullivan fails to point out whether male expression of love and affection for other males in the time of Lincoln was unusual or common. If unusual or uncommon, then Sully has a point. My impression is that such expressions were indeed fairly common and comfortable, and that no overtly homosexual implications were drawn from them.

    Anyone have any data on this?

  23. Ran, I have the same question.

    Many cultures view(ed) a kiss, for example, as a non-sexual greeting/goodbye etc. Now, I don't doubt that the word 'kiss' in English is used to refer to both a non-sexual peck on the (or both) cheek(s) as well as a sexually-meant tongue-probe, but our *interpretation* of how the word is being used in a piece of literature or history will be largely colored by our current perspectives as well as our beliefs about the perspectives in the era under scrutiny. A perilous opportunity for question-begging (by which I mean the classical thought of assuming the answer to the very question you are asking.)

    I just think that our current era's perspectives are being read back all too readily.

  24. Gives new meaning to a night in the Lincoln Bedroom?

    The Civil War wasn't about slavery. It was just a big flit snit.

  25. Seeing, I agree. I hereby nominate Andrew Sullivan for the Sullivan Award (for shoddy logical form.)

  26. Seconded.

  27. Okay, this isn't big news. All the founding fathers were gay.

    John Hancock: gay
    John Adams: gay
    James Monroe: gay
    Benjamin Franklin: did everyone
    Alexander Hamilton: c'mon
    George Washington: tall daddy
    Thomas Jefferson: flame'n!

  28. This quote from the wiki article was also rather eyebrow-raising. I'm not sure how old the "girls" were supposed to be:

    "Once when Mr L was surveying, he was put to bed in the same room with two girls, the head of his bed being next to the foot of the girls' bed. In the night he commenced tickling the feet of one of the girls with his fingers. As she seemed to enjoy it as much as he did he then tickled a little higher up; and as he would tickle higher the girl would shove down lower and the higher he tickled the lower she moved. Mr L would tell the story with evident enjoyment. He never told how the thing ended."

  29. If only it were possible to book Lincoln on the Howard Stern show. Stern would get to the bottom of this darn quick. Plus we would get to see Lincoln tormenting a hot porn star in "the tickle chair."

  30. Kevin Carson:
    Richard N. Current's The Lincoln Nobody Knows mentions this anecdote and says that the "girls" in question are adults.

  31. In that case: That's hot.

  32. Hey, tickles were hard to cum by in the nineteenth century. They had barely been invented... like potato chips.

    Keep in mind: POLICE weren't "invented" until about 1820.

    Riddle: Which came first: a cop or his "night stick"?

    BTW, I guess we'll have to wait for a future thread to see what this new development has to do with slavery and the Civil Wur.

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