More than 150 years before America elected its first black president, Barack Obama, it most likely had its first gay president, James Buchanan (1791-1868).
Buchanan, a Democrat from Lancaster County, Pa., was the 15th president of the United States and a lifelong bachelor. He served as president from 1857-61, tumultuous years leading up to the Civil War.
Historian James W. Loewen has done extensive research into Buchanan’s personal life, and he’s convinced Buchanan was gay. Loewen is the author of the acclaimed book Lies Across America, which examines how historical sites inaccurately portray figures and events in America’s past.
“I’m sure that Buchanan was gay,” Loewen said. “There is clear evidence that he was gay. And since I haven’t seen any evidence that he was heterosexual, I don’t believe he was bisexual.”
According to Loewen, Buchanan shared a residence with William Rufus King, a Democratic senator from Alabama, for several years in Washington, D.C. Loewen said contemporary records indicate the two men were inseparable, and wags would refer to them as “the Siamese twins.”
Loewen also said Buchanan was “fairly open” about his relationship with King, causing some colleagues to view the men as a couple.
For example, Aaron Brown, a prominent Democrat, writing to Mrs. James K. Polk, referred to King as Buchanan’s “better half,” “his wife” and “Aunt Fancy… rigged out in her best clothes.”