During the founding of these United States, homosexuality was punishable by death or castration. But if the history of queer people tells us anything, it’s that we’ve always been here. To celebrate President’s Day, I thought I’d take a look at the role LGBTQ people played in the founding of our nation. Many historians may rain on our big gay parades by pointing out that passionate friendships between men were common during the time, but gossip is forever. And gossip there was. Here’s a list of presidential(ish) pansies for whom rumors still persist.
Dandy Daddy – Alexander Hamilton
Just when we thought the musical taught us all we needed to know about Alexander Hamilton, (Actually, I’ve never seen it. Can someone get me tickets?) there’s a queer chapter that may have been left out of his life story. Even though he was married and famously admitted to having an affair with a woman, Ham shared a loving friendship with rising soldier and anti-slavery statesman John Laurens.
First Ally – George Washington
America’s first president may not have been homosexual himself but he may have been an ally. While leading the Continental army, Washington often looked the other way when servicemen were caught engaging in homosexual activity. Rather than sentence these men to the more common barbaric punishments, Washington simply signed their discharge papers.
While that may have been more about pragmatism, Washington encouraged Hamilton and Laurens to bunk up. He even made accommodations for Prussian military genius Maj. Gen. Frederich Wilhelm von Steuben and his alleged young lover, Pierre Etienne Duponceau. It’s argued von Steuben was easily persuaded to help lead the Continental army to avoid punishment in Europe for committing the crime of homosexuality.
The First Gay President? – James Buchanan
Typically seen as the worst president in US History, Buchanan is also the country’s only bachelor and possibly the first gay man to serve as president.
The Mythical Gay Republican – Abraham Lincoln
Rumors of Honest Abe’s homosexuality have been so famous he inspired the name Log Cabin Republicans, an LGBT organization.