The 15th US President James Buchanan was gay and it was no big secret, according to a new LGBT history site. His partner, William Rufus King, was the longest serving US vice-president. And America’s unofficial anthem America the Brave was written by Katharine Lee Bates, a lesbian.
The Project’s Mark Segal argues that, contrary to right wing political dogma, ‘homosexuals’ have played a vital role in the development of modern America.
Here is Segal’s full article:
A new passion has taken hold of me the last year or so and, if you’ve been reading these pages or those in LGBT publications across the country, you’ve witnessed its intensity: LGBT history, especially LGBT people in American history. It was in full bloom as part of our sixth annual National Gay History Project in October.
In the first year of the National Gay History Project, we asked Congressman Barney Frank to write an essay on gay history. He wrote eloquently about his early years in politics and his coming out as an openly gay member of Congress, and how difficult it was. He explained very clearly how even in the liberal 1960s, under liberal presidents such as Kennedy and then Johnson, antigay legislation was still being ushered through the political system. The article showcases a man who is passionate about politics and the system that makes change. Some children grow up wanting to be doctors, lawyers or artists. There are also those who grow up wanting to be like Barney: a part of a system that will foster change and equality. For them to know that LGBT people were a part of this system from the start and were founders of this country gives them great pride in themselves and hope for a future political career or work in government. And those are the children who will make the changes that will affect our future.
This year’s National Gay History Project started out with a premise stated by a member of the far-right-wing Republican Party. The quote was, “Our founding fathers did not have homosexuals in mind when they created this country.” The project this year proved that statement utterly false.
It was an ambitious project and our writers delivered more than what was expected of them. If you hear that quote again, tell them about Baron von Steuben. Without von Steuben, a gay man, there would be no U.S.A.
Benjamin Franklin was the first U.S. official to recruit a gay man for the military; at that time, the Continental Army.
Did you know that one of the most patriotic songs, “America the Beautiful,” was written by a lesbian, Katharine Lee Bates?
And thanks to our reporting, the official library and home of President Buchanan is finally beginning to admit that it is possible that he was gay. Read about Buchanan, his partner William Rufus King and the rest at www.epgn.com, under Special Coverage.
So, we’ve done our work. Now it’s the time for historians to step up to the plate. My personal promise: That will happen.
Mark Segal, PGN publisher, is the nation’s most-award-winning commentator in LGBT media. He can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.