Could Lincoln Have Joined Saddleback Church?

alincoln.thumbnail.gifHonestly, when I first heard the phrase "Log Cabin Republicans" decades ago, I though they were called that because they met at the Log Cabin in West Hollywood, a real log cabin built originally by the Boy Scouts and used as a meeting hall by numerous  groups. It made sense: West Hollywood=gay; log cabin=Log Cabin. 

Or maybe the name had to do with lumber jack chic–beard, flannel shirt, tight jeans, boots–that made the local 24 hour coffee shop Yukon Mining Co a hot spot for hot men.

Well facepalm.jpg me! I eventually learned the origin of that stalwart bunch of Republicans’ name: Abraham Lincoln had special bed-sharing friendships with men. WWPRD? (What would Pastor Rick do?)  Well, for one thing, he wouldn’t have let Honest Abe join Saddleback Church, since–although homosexuals are allowed to attend services–they cannot be members if they are practicing a gay life style. And by several accounts  Lincoln did practice quite a bit, even while married.

Reams of deep correspondence, some signed "Yours forever" exist between Lincoln and Joshua Speed, a Springfield shopkeeper with whom Lincoln roomed and shared a bed. Yes, those Illinois nights can get chilly, and haven’t we all slept in a bed with someone at least once and not played tickle and slap, but Lincoln’s stepmom says he:

never took much interest in the girls

and Lincoln’s biographer Carl Sandburg wrote that Lincoln and his close friend Speed possessed

a streak of lavender, and spots soft as May violets

which is discreetly poetic code for gay as Oscar Wilde. Previously Lincoln had shared a bed with a local fellow Billy Greene who commented about Abe:

His thighs were as perfect as a human being could be.

Mmm, dishy!

And then when Lincoln was president, Capt. David Derickson regiment’s history records that Derickson, who led the brigade that guarded Lincoln at the Presidential retreat:

advanced so far in the president’s confidence and esteem that in Mrs. Lincoln’s absence he frequently spent the night at his cottage, sleeping in the same bed with him, and — it is said — making use of his Excellency’s night shirt

Sexuality can be fluid, not written in stone, and Lincoln and his male friends seem have enjoyed each others’ intimate company, while still having marriages that produced children. That’s part of the mystery of eroticism and emotions.

It’s deeply symbolic on many levels that Lincoln’s Bible is being used for Obama’s swearing in. And for the LGBT community, there may be a certain extra frisson that the Bible was given to Lincoln by Speed, the man with whom he shared a bed for several years. And while we’ll never know for sure what happened between Lincoln and his men friends, there’s enough belief in "something" that gay Republicans have embraced Abe as one of their own.

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Lisa Derrick

Lisa Derrick

Los Angeles native, attended UC Berkeley and Loyola Marymount University before punk rock and logophilia overtook her life. Worked as nightclub columnist, pop culture journalist and was a Hollywood housewife before writing for and editing Sacred History Magazine. Then she discovered the thrill of politics. She also appears frequently on the Dave Fanning Show, one of Ireland's most popular radio broadcasts.