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Sunday, December 19, 2004

A Republican hero, but was Abe Lincoln gay?

Guardian Online
Paul Harris in New York
Sunday December 19,
2004

It is news guaranteed to make many Republicans squirm. Was Abraham Lincoln, founder of the party now seeking a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage in America, actually gay himself?

A new book, published next month, certainly thinks so. The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln by C.A. Tripp produces evidence that one of America's greatest Presidents had a long-term relationship with a youthful friend, Joshua Speed, and shared his bed with David Derickson, captain of his bodyguards

Tripp, a former researcher for sex scientist Alfred Kinsey and an influential gay writer, includes asides by many of Lincoln's close friends. 'He was not very fond of girls, as he seemed to me,' his stepmother, Sarah Bush Lincoln, once told a friend.

It also includes a diary excerpt by one upper-class Washington woman who wrote of Derickson: 'There is a Bucktail soldier here devoted to the President, drives with him, and when Mrs L is not home, sleeps with him. What stuff!'

Scholars have long debated Lincoln's sexuality, and as early as the 1920s were making veiled references to his relationship with Speed. However, critics say that in the pioneer days men sleeping together in rough circumstances was not uncommon.

Now Tripp has discovered letters between Lincoln and Speed which supposedly betray a deep intimacy.

But Tripp's book really breaks new ground in its exhaustive portrayal of many of Lincoln's possible gay lovers, including one man who said Lincoln's thighs 'were as perfect as a human being could be'.

'Make no mistake - Abe Lincoln was gay,' said Professor Scott Thompson, from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts.

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