Abraham Lincoln's sexual proclivities have long been the subject of titillating rumors and historical debate, but Lincoln's alleged "lavender side" is conspicuously absent from Tony Kushner's Steven Spielberg biopic, "Lincoln."
The outspoken activist and writer first began writing the script six years ago, according to Gold Derby, but the final version, while meticulously detailed, is also sexless.
Kushner sat down with Gold Derby for an interview about the writing process. He addressed the absence of homosexual undertones in the film, despite his personal belief that there is reason to speculate Lincoln might have been gay or bisexual.
"I wanted to write about a very specific moment and I chose this moment and I don’t feel that there’s any evidence at this particular moment that Lincoln was having sex with anybody," Kushner said in the interview. "He seems to have not slept and taken no time off and during this period I think he was beginning to feel ground to a pulp by the war and by the pressures of his job. I find it difficult to believe that Lincoln was banging anybody."
Lincoln's close relationships with male friends is well documented.
Following his move in 1837 to Springfield, Ill., a young Lincoln shared a bed for several years with Joshua Speed, and he continued a lifelong correspondence with him after, according to Slate.
Then there was the former president's relationship with his bodyguard, Captain David Derickson, with whom he also occasionally shared a bed, according to Gold Derby.
Lincoln once answered a knock at his bedroom door while wearing Derickson's nightshirt as the captain slumbered in his sack. Gossipmeisters buzzed about them. The wife of a navy aide wrote, "Oh, 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!"
A teenage Lincoln wrote this poem, published in LA Weekly, which seems to hint at gay marriage:
"I will tell you a Joke about Jewel and Mary
It is neither a Joke nor a Story
For Rubin and Charles has married two girls
But Billy has married a boy..."
The main problem for Kushner, as it has been for Lincoln's past historians and biographers, is a serious lack of solid evidence showing these hints and relationships ever moved out of the realm of speculation and rumor and became sexually intimate.
"There are, unfortunately, no memoirs, no diaries, nothing to say for sure," Kushner explains.
And of course, there is Mary Todd Lincoln, with whom Lincoln bore several children during a union that lasted for more than two decades.
"I absolutely believe that the Lincoln’s marriage was a real marriage. These two people loved each other," Kushner said. "It wouldn’t be the first time that a gay man and a straight woman hooked up and had a great marriage. But I don’t know. I really don’t know. And I think that’s what we have to say about it. We keep the door open and people should talk about it. I don’t feel, finally, that my politics are entirely determined by the fact that I’m a gay man.”
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