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Obama: Probably not actually gay, in this day and age.

Just a Girl in Short Shorts Talking About Whatever celebrates “A Very Gay President’s Day” by reopening speculation on the sexual orientation of two 19th Century presidents—bad President James Buchanan and good President Abraham Lincoln. All this talk about Civil War era gay Presidents got me thinking: Would we ever see a closeted gay person in the modern White House?

Short Shorts takes us back to the mid-1800’s, where America saw two closeted (maybe) gay (maybe) Presidents in a row! Buchanan, Short Shorts writes, “was almost certainly queer,” noting that “Andy Jackson referred to him, in the homophobic humor of the time, as ‘Miss Nancy.'” (Though in all fairness, I’m betting Andrew Jackson called a lot of people gay). Lincoln, on the other hand, kept his queerness more under-the-radar, but was still rumored to be “a gay or bi dude—-oh yeah,” after “as a young lawyer, he spent four years sharing a bed with a handsome shopkeeper named Joshua Steed.”

My have the times changed. Okay, okay—-we can never know for sure if we’ve seen a closeted gay president in our lifetimes. Perhaps all of the modern presidents have been secretly gay! But how about those candidates who, like Buchanan, are pretty much acknowledged to very likely be gay, but aren’t public about their sexualities?

Short Shorts herself references some other modern leaders—-she cites “SenatorLindsay Graham or Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano“—- who are “undoubtedly gay, but it is all sublimated in the interest of a life of the mind and total devotion to their work.” I’m not outing Graham or Napolitano here. But would the rumors surrounding their sexualities pass presidential scrutiny in the modern era, when a candidate’s personal life becomes the business of all American voters? Or are closeted candidates now relegated to the Senators, Governors, and Homeland Security Chiefs of the world?

More interesting, are we now more likely to elect a gay candidate who is clear about his or her sexual orientation than one who must continually fight off rumors of being gay?

Photo by dbking