Friday, January 14, 2005

Was Abraham Lincoln gay?

In watching a report on CNN a few hours ago, the question of Abraham Lincoln's sexuality was brought into question. "The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln," written by C.A. Tripp, claims Lincoln was gay. Apparently, this has been news for about a month, but it came to my attention today.

The book uses as sources a poem about homosexuality that Lincoln wrote as a teen (the poem does not say he was gay, but refers to a story of a gay relationship.). It also mentions his relationship with friend and business associate Joshua Speed, and speaks about the nature of Lincoln's marriage and his discomfort with women in general.

Poetic Leanings has been consistently in the corner of the gay community. I am quite comfortable with the issue and am 100% in favor of gay rights. Prove to me that a historical or contemporary figure is gay, and I will shrug. It means nothing really. Well, maybe it can be used to show the right wingnuts that gays are no different than anyone else, but for me personally, I could not care less.

Having said this, the evidence that Tripp holds up is, at best, weak. It was common in the 18th and 19th centuries for men to share beds in their travels. It was equally common for men to write letters to each other that today would seem overly gushing in nature.

Did Lincoln have a troubled marriage? Yes. Does that prove anything? No. Mary Todd Lincoln appeared to suffer from mental illnesses, as did, probably, Lincoln himself. Today, they would see a shrink and maybe take Paxil. In those days, the mood swings and depressions would naturally contribute to marriage problems. Add in the loss of their son at a young age, and you have another reason for marital difficulty.

In my readings of Lincoln's life, there is ample evidence showing his interest, yet clumsy courting of women. Tripp mentions how Lincoln "did not like women." This is a misinterpretation. Lincoln was awkward and felt discomfort and shyness around women. He was more at ease around men where he could display his bawdy humor.

Does everything above prove beyond a shadow of doubt that Abraham Lincoln was not homosexual or bi-sexual? Not at all. The possibility exists that Lincoln was gay. However, there is no hard proof of this, and the examples Tripp sites are overwhelmingly weak.

I am all for promoting the gay agenda to insure equal rights in this country. I despise the anti-gay lunacy of the fundamentalists in this country. From what I can see, though, this is shabby detective work that only harms the gay movement's cause. Chicken Little history making will only convince those with narrow minds that they do not have to believe more concrete evidence. That is the only reason why Poetic Leanings will be a venue for discussion on this matter.

See my rankings of the presidents. Gay or straight, Lincoln was a great leader.

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