Washington, Lincoln, Nixon Were Gay: New Book
Larry Kramer's new book is ruffling feathers, dividing critics
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 12, 2015 3:06 PM CDT
In this Nov. 17, 2011 file photo playwright Larry Kramer attends Out magazine’s Out 100 gala in New York.    (AP Photo/Charles Sykes, File)

(Newser) – George Washington and Abraham Lincoln were gay. So were Alexander Hamilton, Herman Melville, and Richard Nixon—at least according to a new book that the author considers true but his publisher is selling as fiction to avoid legal problems, the Guardian reports. Needless to say, Larry Kramer's 800-page The American People, Volume 1: Search for My Heart is ruffling feathers. Kramer claims, for example, that Washington was gay in part because he designed soldiers' uniforms, the New York Times reports, and John Wilkes Booth killed Abraham Lincoln because the president spurned him. "You only have to look at photographs of Wilkes and [co-conspirator] Lewis Powell to see that they’re full of their own beauty," says Kramer. "We call it gaydar—the thing straight historians don’t have."

Now at least one historian is calling him out on some details (generals used to make soldiers' uniforms, apparently). But Kramer, 79, who has long endured health problems and speaks in a whisper, describes a bigger picture: "Most histories have been written by straight people," he says. "There has never been any history book written where the gay people have been in the history from the beginning." Kramer is well-known for having started groups around the AIDS crisis in the 1980s, writing plays about gay life, and challenging Lincoln screenwriter Tony Kushner to reveal the Civil War president's orientation. Now Kramer is calling for "our own army as gays" to fight anti-gay repression worldwide, the Advocate reports. "I mean, it’s lovely that we can get married," he says, "but that’s really small potatoes compared with what we don’t have, which is equality. "