Was Washington 'Really' Gay?

Since it is Presidents’ Day, I thought I would do some research on the internet, mainly for myself, on the founders of our country. That is when I came across this article.

Is this all true? Were Washington and Hamilton “really” gay lovers? Did Washington refuse at times to prosecute the “abhorrent and detestable crime against nature” (what we would call today gay sex)?

I know people often say wild things to make a point (cf. claims Lincoln was gay). But also according to this article, it was written by:

So presently I just don’t know. What do the rest of you think:)?


For those of us too lazy to click the link and read the article, does it offer any evidence whatsoever?

The evidence is strong, although still disputed, that James Buchanan was gay. AFAIK, no credible evidence has been presented for homosexuality among the other 42 presidents.

There are also award-winning journalists, syndicated columnists and authors that are complete loons. So there’s that.

The article doesn’t claim that Washington was gay, but that he tolerated homosexuality in the ranks, citing evidence. There are a few comments indicating that he might possibly have been gay, but, as explicitly stated in the article, there is no clear proof.

It claims that it’s clear that Hamilton was gay, with plenty of evidence in his many letters.

The linked article is TL;DR. I skimmed it and found this:

Maybe the OP can quote the part of the article he is referring to that makes a claim that GW was gay, as opposed to simply not anti-gay. I didn’t see it.

This appears to fall into the same area as the arguments *against *Buchanan being gay: that the meaning and intent of the language in letters from those times is being misunderstood.

After all, many readers today encountering, say, a published letter written by an actorin the 1930s describing a friend as a “gay fellow” would come away with a very different impression from what was intended. I’ve seen good cases where similar phrases from the colonial and prewar eras were shown to have very different meaning from modern assumptions.

That said, I think the evidence that Buchanan was homosexual in orientation if not necessarily in practice is very strong.

I dunno. I read half of Washington’s biography and it seems like having an eye for the ladies is a thread that runs through his whole life. One heart-throb love interest of his (I can’t remember her name now) married another local dignitary and were later friends with George and Martha. Apparently there was some unrequited sexual tension for years- the bio is a little coy, hinting that maybe they had a secret affair, but probably not since it would seem so, so difficult to keep such a thing secret.

Anyway, that’s just off the top of my head. Washington’s early and not-so-early social interactions are peppered with attractions to the ladies. If he was gay at all, Chernow doesn’t let on. Bi at the most.

I’ve also read a number of biographies of Washington and Hamilton and none of them have suggested they were lovers or that either was gay. The consensus is that Washington couldn’t have children so he regarded younger men like Hamilton, Lafayette, Laurens, and others as his surrogate sons.

The “awards” this writer won must have been for alternative history, if she believes the following:

Needless to say, Hamilton was never President. I also question the unsourced parenthetical quote “not much fire between the sheets.” The context suggests she’s quoting Washington’s letters. I’ve read quite a few of Washington’s collected letters, and such phrasing and gossipy openness seems entirely out of character. I’d love to know which letter he wrote this, and to whom. It seems fabricated to me.

Was Washington relatively relaxed in his attitude toward homosexuality at the time? Perhaps, and in my mind it would only add to his greatness if it were true. But this article looks like a bit of political activism masquerading as journalism.

I’ve never thought about this before … I’m sorry I gave it any thought today … and I will never think about it again.

There’s merit to this, in that the liberals from 240 years ago would be seen as conservative today. That speaks to the Tea Party’s 18th century idealism, back when women and non-whities didn’t vote. But then again, marijuana was legal. This whole gay/straight debate is getting old, it’s divorcees who have already destroyed the institution of marriage (Matthew 5:32).

It’s like asking if Edward II of England was gay.

I’d also like to think Washington was an early paragon of tolerance. But the more likely explanation was that Washington was always short of troops and didn’t want to discharge any if it could be avoided.

Where would he have learned such tolerance in that era? (That’s not an argument. I am trying to think of cultures and subcultures tolerant-to-accepting of homosexuality in that era, when both England and colonial America were distinctly intolerant, even criminalizing. It’s all well and good to assume that Geo. was simply enlightened because he was such a superior individual - and I believe he was - but I don’t think that’s the case.)

Pardon my laziness about citing sources, but wasn’t Hamilton quite the hetero horndog? This is one example; my US History professor in college seemed to think there were several others. This would not preclude his straying into the higher reaches of the Kinsey scale, of course, but this is the first I’ve ever heard that he may have been gay.

Now Baron von Steuben, on the other had, almost certainly was queer. I would imagine that this is a more than plausible reason for Washington being more tolerant than the norm. It would have been awkward for the great commander to prosecute homosexuality when his chief of staff had faced similar charges in Germany. I should think that Washington saw the good sense in just leaving it alone.

I had the same reaction.

I wasn’t arguing for any of the points I made above; I was just stating what the article said.

I also question the accuracy of any historian who calls Hamilton a president. If it was a typo, I can’t quite figure out what was really meant.

Just (lazily) playing devil’s advocate, but an awful lot of US history written prior to the late 20th glosses over personality problems with prominent figures, and can’t seem to completely avoid applying successive layers of gloss about what perfect, upright, dick-swingin’ men our FFs were.

The major argument against Buchanan’s homosexual leanings, for example, is to make much of his one short, distant, tepid courtship with a woman who died on him. See? See? A gay man wouldn’t have wooed a disinterested gal in that day!

I think that’s pretty well established. Perhaps he was a bi-horndog? :wink:

It’s a bit rich to hear someone complain about how the Tea Partiers are using revisionist history, and then come up with this.

I did some poking about, and I cannot find where she actually won any awards. One of her collections was nominated for a Coretta Scott King award and a Lambda Literary award, but her webpage does not mention actually wining any.

FWIW she does not appearto be universally popularamong the LGBT community, if such a thing exists. And she is quoted in another interviewas turning everything into activism, so perhaps it is best not to take a strictly literal approach to what she claims.


According to her webpage, at least, she won the Society of Professional Journalists award for a 4 part series on homeless teens in Philadelphia. After doing some research, it looks like the award was in 2009, and granted by the Keystone Pro chapter’s Spotlight Contest for Enterprise Reporting for the series “Hiding in Plain Sight”.

It looks like the book that won the Lambda Literary Award was a 2001 award for a book she edited, “Coming out of Cancer: Writings from the Lesbian Cancer Epidemic”. And it looks like she got second place in the 2008 NLGJA Excellence in Journalism award for her article “Killing Ourselves with Hate: Suicide in the GBLT Community”, published in the Philadelphia gay news.

So, the awards are accurate, at least.

I missed it on her webpage - thanks.


I believe at the time it was referred to as “asketh not, telleth not”.

No, I don’t believe George was gay.