Hey Obama, Miss Nancy wants his title back

Timothy Kincaid

May 17th, 2012

Time Magazine reminds us that the First Gay President isn’t a title that can be applied to President Obama for more than one reason.

Miss Nancy

Loewen is one of several historians who believe that James Buchanan, who served from 1857 to 1861, was in fact our first gay president. He is the only president to have remained a bachelor throughout his life. (His niece, Harriet Lane, handled the duties of First Lady during his term in office.) He shared a home with William Rufus King, an Alabama Senator and Vice President under Buchanan’s predecessor, Franklin Pierce. Their relationship was reportedly so close that Andrew Jackson and other contemporaries referred to them as “Miss Nancy” and “Aunt Fancy”.

It is difficult to say with absolute certainty that Buchanan was homosexual. The term – as well as the modern understanding of the concept – had not yet been developed. But however best described, Miss Nancy was decidedly atypical in his sexual comportment and would never be accepted as a presidential contender today.

Considering his life – and the perceptions of his life by those around him – I believe that it is fair to say that James Buchanon was our First Gay President (providing that we recall the limitations of language). But should some revelation prove that to be false, there’s always his successor, that young Illinois Republican who had a penchant for sharing beds with other men.


May 17th, 2012

And Abraham Lincoln followed shortly thereafter.

Jim Burroway

May 17th, 2012

I never did like the title of First Black President for Bill Clinton. I understand that it was meant to be a positive, but when that came out back in 1996, I had the hope that perhaps, maybe (although I though sadly unlikely) there would actually be a black president that African-American school kids to read about and look at and think to themselves, “he’s a lot like me.”

And now we have that president.

Similarly, I hold out the hope that there will, someday, be a gay or lesbian president. Perhaps not in my lifetime, but someday. And when that someday comes, gay school kids will look at and read about that president and think to themselves, “he/she is a lot like me.”

I’m holding out for that person to be the First Gay President. Which is why in my mind neither Buchanan nor Lincoln qualify.

Eric in Oakland

May 17th, 2012

I thought the name, “Aunt Nancy,” referred to Buchanan’s companion, William King? Wikipedia is not always reliable, but the entry for James Buchanan states that Andrew Jackson used both names to refer to King, not to Buchanan.

Anyway, further evidence (from the wikipedia article) that Buchanan was homosexual based on his own words: In May 1844, during one of King’s absences that resulted from King’s appointment as minister to France, Buchanan wrote to a Mrs. Roosevelt, “I am now ‘solitary and alone’, having no companion in the house with me. I have gone a wooing to several gentlemen, but have not succeeded with any one of them. I feel that it is not good for man to be alone, and [I] should not be astonished to find myself married to some old maid who can nurse me when I am sick, provide good dinners for me when I am well, and not expect from me any very ardent or romantic affection.”[63][64][65]


May 18th, 2012

@ Jim I was under the impression that the title “First Black President” which was given to President Clinton by Maya Angelou during congressional investigations of his character, was not intended to be a positive, but rather referred to the fact that he was treated as if he was guilty of something-we just didn’t know what yet. It was, if my memory serves, a rather cutting statement on the state of race relations. Please correct me if i am wrong, however.


May 18th, 2012

It was Toni Morrison, not Maya Angelou.


May 18th, 2012

Oh derp, thanks for catching that. That’s what i get for not reading what i’m writing

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