FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Lincoln in His Lover’s Nightgown

by TARIQ ALI

Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln is consciously restrictive, concentrating as it does on how the vote was manipulated and the 13th Amendment passed, but Mrs Lincoln is not exactly missing from the movie. So why didn’t the scriptwriter Tony Kushner, a staunch gay rights activist who ‘personally believe[s] that there is some reason to speculate that Lincoln might have been bisexual or gay’, include any of that speculation in the film? There is a great deal of circumstantial evidence to suggest that Lincoln slept with a number of men. In an interview with Gold Derby, Kushner said:

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… 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.

Not very convincing. Especially when you consider that one of the men who shared Lincoln’s bed was his military aide and bodyguard, Captain David Derickson (in 1862-63, before the film begins).

Kushner may find it difficult to believe that at the height of a political crisis such ‘banging’ is possible. But history and present times contradict such a narrow view.
 The teenage Abe was much more relaxed than his current sycophants. He wrote a pre-homage to gay marriage (quoted in William Herndon’s 1889 Life), which at the moment appears to be the only issue that divides centre-left from centre-right in Euro-American political life:

I will tell you a joke about Joel and Mary,

It is neither a joke nor a story.

For Reuben and Charles have married two girls,

But Billy has married a boy.

A few years ago, not long after reading C.A. Tripp’s pioneering The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln, I had lunch with Gore Vidal in LA, and taped our conversation for later use. The following exchange is revealing:

TA: Given the recent book and materials on Lincoln’s homosexuality how do you feel having portrayed him as a raving heterosexual in your novel?

GV: You’re a bastard. What a bastard question. It hurts. It hurts. How could I have missed that?

TA: You didn’t look?

GV: I had no idea, but since Tripp’s book I’ve gone back and devoured everything on the subject. There is no doubt in my mind. Once he was in bed with the Captain and the latter’s son walked in. On another occasion they were disturbed and Lincoln opened the door wearing his lover’s nightgown. Oh what a fool I was…

Kushner missed an opportunity to give the issue an airing and in so doing caved to what the marketing people think is a homophobic audience. Daniel Day-Lewis would surely have risen to the occasion, but perhaps another time.

Tariq Ali is the author of The Duel: Pakistan on the Flightpath of American Power.  He can be reached at tariq.ali3@btinternet.com.

 

 

Tariq Ali is the author of The Obama Syndrome (Verso).

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

January 18, 2017
Gary Leupp
The Extraordinary Array of Those Questioning Trump’s Legitimacy (and Their Various Reasons)
Charles Pierson
Drone Proliferation Ramps Up
Ajamu Baraka
Celebrating Dr. King with the Departure of Barack Obama
David Underhill
Trumpology With a Twist
Chris Floyd
Infinite Jest: Liberals Laughing All the Way to Hell
Stansfield Smith
Obama’s Hidden Role in Worsening Climate Change
Ron Leighton
Trump is Not Hitler: How the Misuse of History Distorts the Present as Well as the Past
Ralph Nader
An Open Letter to President-Elect Donald Trump
Binoy Kampmark
NATO and Obsolescence: Donald Trump and the History of an Alliance
Zarefah Baroud
‘The Power to Create a New World’: Trump and the Environmental Challenge Ahead
Julian Vigo
Obama Must Pardon the Black Panthers in Prison or in Exile
Alfredo Lopez
The Whattsapp Scandal
Clancy Sigal
Russian Hacking and the Smell Test
Terry Simons
The Truth About Ethics and Condoms
January 17, 2017
John Pilger
The Issue is Not Trump, It is Us
John K. White
Is Equality Overrated, Too?
Michael J. Sainato
The DNC Hands the Democratic Party Over to David Brock and Billionaire Donors
John Davis
Landscapes of Shame: America’s National Parks
Andrew Smolski
Third Coast Pillory: Politicians and Rhetorical Tricks
Chris Busby
The Scientific Hero of Chernobyl: Alexey V. Yablokov, the Man Who Dared to Speak the Truth
David Macaray
Four Reasons Trump Will Quit
Chet Richards
The Vicissitudes of the Rural South
Clancy Sigal
“You Don’t Care About Jobs”: Why the Democrats Lost
Robert Dodge
Martin Luther King and U.S. Politics: Time for a U.S. Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Jack Sadat Lee
I Dream of Justice for All the Animal Kingdom
James McEnteer
Mourning Again in America
January 16, 2017
Paul Street
How Pure is Your Hate?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
Did the Elites Have Martin Luther King Jr. Killed?
Robert Hunziker
Global Warming Clobbers Ocean Life
Patrick Cockburn
The Terrifying Parallels Between Trump and Erdogan
Kenneth Surin
The Neoliberal Stranglehold on the American Public University
Lawrence Davidson
Is There a Future for the Democratic Party?
Douglas Valentine
Who Killed MLK Jr?
Robert Fisk
The Foreign Correspondent in the Age of Twitter and Trump
Dale Bryan
“Where Do We Go from Here?”
David Swanson
The Deep State Wants to Deep Six Us
Dan Bacher
Obama Administration Orders Speedy Completion of Delta Tunnels Plan
Mark Weisbrot
Obama Should Make Sure that Haitian Victims of UN-Caused Cholera are Compensated
Winslow Myers
The Light of the World
Bruce Mastron
My Latest Reason to Boycott the NFL: Guns
Weekend Edition
January 13, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Gregory Elich
Did the Russians Really Hack the DNC?
Jeffrey St. Clair
The President Who Wasn’t There: Barack Obama’s Legacy of Impotence
Anthony DiMaggio
Ethics Fiasco: Trump, Divestment and the Perversion of Executive Politics
Joshua Frank
Farewell Obummer, Hello Golden Showers
Paul Street
Hit the Road, Barack: Some Farewell Reflections
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail