Sunday, May 13, 2012

Newsweek Blows It Again!

The cover for the next issue of Newsweek (not even on the stands yet) is already causing some consternation in the LGBTQ community.

Just as many persons of color found it inherently condescending when Bill Clinton was referred to as the first Black President, so too will many LGBTQs find this to be insulting. Despite his statement of personal support for the concept of Marriage Equality, his insistence that it is still a matter of States Rights over Civil Rights has many of the people he expected to come to his side in support continuing to challenge him. We want to know, if he truly believes that we should all be treated equally under the law, why does he still refuse to sign the Executive Order that has been waiting on his desk for 3 years now and ban discrimination against LGBTQ employees by Federal contractors?

Even among those in the community who have vocally expressed their gratitude and support for the President for his interview the other day, few believe he has achieved the status of Sainthood this cover implies.

But more troubling (to me, at least) is that this cover reveals the complete lack of any appreciation of American history that one should expect from a publication that would like us to consider it as a reputable source of news.

At least, at the time people were referring to Bill Clinton as the first Black President, we had never had one. But we HAVE had a gay President!

Leaving aside the speculation about Abraham Lincoln for now (speculation being given increasing attention in academic circles) there is very little doubt in the minds of all but the most homophobic historians that James Buchanan was gay.

Even Wikipedia, notorious for trying to whitewash their biographies of LGBTQ people (as if a President who has been dead for over one-hundred years were going to threaten a lawsuit, a la Tom Cruise or John Travolta) tacitly acknowledges the fact that he was, at the least, bisexual. From their biography:

For fifteen years in Washington, D.C., before his presidency, Buchanan lived with his close friend, Alabama Senator William Rufus King... Buchanan's and King's close relationship prompted Andrew Jackson to call King "Miss Nancy" and "Aunt Fancy", while Aaron V. Brown spoke of the two as "Buchanan and his wife." Some of the contemporary press also speculated about Buchanan's and King's relationship. The two men's nieces destroyed their uncles' correspondence, leaving some questions about their relationship; but the length and intimacy of surviving letters illustrate "the affection of a special friendship", and Buchanan wrote of his "communion" with his housemate. In May 1844, during one of King's absences that resulted from King's appointment as minister to France, Buchanan wrote to a Mrs. Roosevelt, "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 [I] 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."

"I have gone a wooing to several gentlemen... not expect from me any very ardent or romantic affection..."  Is there any other rational way to interpret these quotes other than as revealing the depth of his relationship with King?

Maybe we should all chip in and buy Andrew Sullivan and his editors at Newsweek copies of a few American history books!

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