I saw Titanic yesterday and it was the most riveting three hours and fourteen minutes I’ve spent in a long time. I’ll leave it to this guy to tell you why. The only boring part was the actual romance of Rose and Jack—neither Kate Winslet nor Leonardo DiCaprio do a ton of acting so much as they gaze at each other meaningfully, breathe heavily, protest (Winslet), and tease (DiCaprio).

Anyway! There was no gay love story in Titanic, but according to one writer, there was one on the RMS Titanic: And it featured two prominent Washingtonians who went down with the unsinkable ship.

In the press rooms of the White House and the War, State and Navy buildings, as one reporter wrote at the time, “the name of Maj. Archie Butt, once synonymous of laughter and jest, now symbolic of heroism, was repeated while eyes blurred and voices became queerly strained.” Ever since 1912, writers have depicted Butt as an archetypal Southerner and military officer. They have not noticed, or have shrunk from mentioning, that his was also love story, a story involving another man, Frank Millet.

Butt and Millet lived together as domestic partners, Richard Davenport-Hines writes in the Daily. Verifying whether the relationship was romantic is kind of impossible to do without intimate primary sources, but it seems likely. (Less likely, at least based on my viewing of Titanic, is the writer’s imagining that Millet was at Butt’s side until the ship sank. It was crazy at that point!) After their deaths, a fountain was created in the pair’s memory in 1913. It sits on the Ellipse. One side is an image of a woman representing Millet and his artistic work, the other side a soldier, representing Butt and his military service.

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