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).

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
Weekend Edition
July 31-33, 2015
Jeffrey St. Clair
Bernie and the Sandernistas: Into the Void
John Pilger
Julian Assange: the Untold Story of an Epic Struggle for Justice
Roberto J. González – David Price
Remaking the Human Terrain: The US Military’s Continuing Quest to Commandeer Culture
Lawrence Ware
Bernie Sanders’ Race Problem
Andrew Levine
The Logic of Illlogic: Narrow Self-Interest Keeps Israel’s “Existential Threats” Alive
ANDRE VLTCHEK
Kos, Bodrum, Desperate Refugees and a Dying Child
Paul Street
“That’s Politics”: the Sandernistas on the Master’s Schedule
Ted Rall
How the LAPD Conspired to Get Me Fired from the LA Times
Mike Whitney
Power-Mad Erdogan Launches War in Attempt to Become Turkey’s Supreme Leader
Ellen Brown
The Greek Coup: Liquidity as a Weapon of Coercion
Stephen Lendman
Russia Challenges America’s Orwellian NED
Will Parrish
The Politics of California’s Water System
John Wight
The Murder of Ali Saad Dawabsha, a Palestinian Infant Burned Alive by Israeli Terrorists
Jeffrey Blankfort
Leading Bibi’s Army in the War for Washington
Geoffrey McDonald
Obama’s Overtime Tweak: What is the Fair Price of a Missed Life?
Brian Cloughley
Hypocrisy, Obama-Style
Robert Fantina
Israeli Missteps Take a Toll
Pete Dolack
Speculators Circling Puerto Rico Latest Mode of Colonialism
Ron Jacobs
Spying on Black Writers: the FB Eye Blues
Paul Buhle
The Leftwing Seventies?
Binoy Kampmark
The TPP Trade Deal: of Sovereignty and Secrecy
David Swanson
Vietnam, Fifty Years After Defeating the US
Robert Hunziker
Human-Made Evolution
Shamus Cooke
Why Obama’s “Safe Zone” in Syria Will Inflame the War Zone
David Rosen
Hillary Clinton: Learn From Your Sisters
Sam Husseini
How #AllLivesMatter and #BlackLivesMatter Can Devalue Life
Shepherd Bliss
Why I Support Bernie Sanders for President
Louis Proyect
Manufacturing Denial
Howard Lisnoff
The Wrong Argument
Tracey Harris
Living Tiny: a Richer and More Sustainable Future
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
A Day of Tears: Report from the “sHell No!” Action in Portland
Tom Clifford
Guns of August: the Gulf War Revisited
Renee Lovelace
I Dream of Ghana
Colin Todhunter
GMOs: Where Does Science Begin and Lobbying End?
Ben Debney
Modern Newspeak Dictionary, pt. II
Christopher Brauchli
Guns Don’t Kill People, Immigrants Do and Other Congressional Words of Wisdom
S. Mubashir Noor
India’s UNSC Endgame
Ellen Taylor
The Voyage of the Golden Rule
Norman Ball
Ten Questions for Lee Drutman: Author of “The Business of America is Lobbying”
Franklin Lamb
Return to Ma’loula, Syria
Masturah Alatas
Six Critics in Search of an Author
Mark Hand
Cinéma Engagé: Filmmaker Chronicles Texas Fracking Wars
Mary Lou Singleton
Gender, Patriarchy, and All That Jazz
Patrick Hiller
The Icebreaker and #ShellNo: How Activists Determine the Course
Charles Larson
Tango Bends Its Gender: Carolina De Robertis’s “The Gods of Tango”