Re: C.A. Tripp's New Book Claiming Lincoln Was Gay (London Times)

Roundup: Talking About History

John Harlow, in the London Times (12-19-04):

A BIOGRAPHY which claims that President Abraham Lincoln was homosexual has provoked fierce criticism and prompted complaints that attempts to “out” historical figures have gone too far.

The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln, to be published by Simon & Schuster next month, says that the president who won the American civil war and ended slavery had affairs with young men.

While homosexual campaigners have made similar suggestions in the past, the book by Clarence Tripp, a psychology professor, will propel them into the mainstream for the first time.

Tripp, who helped Alfred Kinsey, the controversial researcher, to carry out surveys of sexual behaviour in the 1940s, began his work on Lincoln after attending an American Historical Association conference in 1990. It debated whether Lincoln and three other presidents — George Washington, James Abram Garfield and James Buchanan — were gay, but reached no conclusion.

Tripp’s book is likely to strengthen a backlash against so-called “queer theory” which has been used to claim that figures from William Shakespeare to Adolf Hitler and from Florence Nightingale to Eleanor Roosevelt were gay.

Critics claim that gay activists are trying to seize control of the education agenda and a journalist who worked with Tripp has denounced his findings on Lincoln’s sexuality as a fraud.

Tripp, an influential gay writer who died two weeks after completing his manuscript, claims that Lincoln reached puberty at nine and became a sexual “outsider”, which supposedly influenced his decision to fight for the emancipation of slaves....

The publication of Tripp’s book was delayed after Philip Nobile, his early collaborator, alleged that some of his evidence had been fabricated.

Nobile, who exposed flaws in Alex Haley’s black history Roots, wants the publisher to pulp Tripp’s book. He is writing about the “scandal” for The Weekly Standard magazine.

Simon & Schuster says it “took note” of Nobile’s points but started delivering the book to warehouses last Wednesday. Vanity Fair magazine has commissioned an article by Gore Vidal, another Lincoln biographer who also believes that the president was gay.

The claims have angered some academics. A Yale historian who would not be named said gay activists may be right to restate homosexual achievements, but not to claim so many dead heroes: “Anyone who disagrees with them risks being branded homophobic.”

Dr Judith Reisman of the Institute for Media Education, an anti-pornography think thank, said: “They want to claim that everyone you have heard of in history, from Jesus Christ onwards, was secretly gay or something similar. This is patently untrue.”

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