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.
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.