James Buchanan: Our REAL first gay president
I have no adjectives to describe the latest cover of Newsweek, which declares Obama “the first gay president” after he personally endorsed same-sex marriage.
I’ll just let the rainbow halo speak for itself.
Usually this is where I’d post a picture of said cover, but I refuse to perpetuate that crap. Google it if you haven’t seen it already and you want to feel sad about American print media.
On a less disappointing and more historical note, George Mason University’s History News Network just ran an illuminating article about the real first gay president of the United States. (Hint: it is not Barack Obama)
Our real first gay president (History News Network via Salon)
There can be no doubt that James Buchanan was gay, before, during and after his four years in the White House. Moreover, the nation knew it, too — he was not far into the closet.
Today, I know no historian who has studied the matter and thinks Buchanan was heterosexual. Fifteen years ago, historian John Howard, author of “Men Like That,” a pioneering study of queer culture in Mississippi, shared with me the key documents, including Buchanan’s May 13, 1844, letter to a Mrs. Roosevelt. Describing his deteriorating social life after his great love, William Rufus King, senator from Alabama, had moved to Paris to become our ambassador to France, Buchanan wrote:
I am now “solitary and alone,” having no companion in the house with me. I have gone a wooing to several gentlemen, but have not succeeded with any one of them. I feel that it is not good for man to be alone; and should not be astonished to find myself married to some old maid who can nurse me when I am sick, provide good dinners for me when I am well, and not expect from me any very ardent or romantic affection.
Despite such evidence, one reason why Americans find it hard to believe Buchanan could have been gay is that we have a touching belief in progress. Our high school history textbooks’ overall story line is, “We started out great and have been getting better ever since,” more or less automatically. Thus we must be more tolerant now than we were way back in the middle of the 19th century! Buchanan could not have been gay then, else we would not seem more tolerant now.
This is a great, great article. Read it!
And if you needed any more convincing that Newsweek has in fact degenerated into a vulgar peddler of sensationalistic tripe: