You’ll have to read it in unimpressive 2-D (take that, James Cameron!), but
this tale of possible queer love aboard the Titanic brings far more flutters to our heart than Rose and Jack’s story ever did.
Francis D. Millet and Major Archibald Butt (gotta love the name) were very close friends who both went down with the ship that fateful night 100 years ago.
Millet and Butt (an aide-de-camp to President Taft—see photo at right) probably didn’t consider themselves “gay” as we understand the term—and were booked in separate rooms—but LGBT historian James Gifford over at OutHistory.org dredged up some intriguing details on the couple, including the text of a plaque on a Washington, DC, memorial honoring their enduring friendship:
No Damon and Pythias friendship could have been closer than the friendship of Major Butt and Millet,’ said Mr. [Richard B.] Watrous [Secretary of the American Civic Association]. ‘The two kept quarters together and were inseparable when both were in Washington. They lived near the Metropolitan Club, Butt being, as is well known, a bachelor and Mr. Millet’s family being quartered at his home in England… Among all of us who knew of the close friendship of Major Butt and Mr. Millet there has been the tensest of feeling since the news of disaster to the Titanic reached us.
Gifford also writes that Taft was devastated at the loss of Butt, taking it as if his son had died. He didn’t find any letters between Millet and Butt, but there are love letters from Millet to writer Charles Warren Stoddard.
“My dear old Boy, I miss you more than you do me and gaum [pine] constantly—after dark. Why should one go and the other stay. It is rough on the one who remains.”
Other parts of their correspondence indicate Millet had a hot-and-steamy sexual relationship with Stoddard in Venice nearly 37 years before his death in the freezing Atlantic.