Presidential Closets

Mayor Pete “almost certain” the US has had a gay president

Pete Buttigieg, Meet the Press, Chuck Todd, black homophobia
Pete Buttigieg on “Meet the Press”

Mayor Pete Buttigieg, often cited as the first potentially gay US President, claims he would not be the first.

In an interview with Axios on HBO, the South Bend, IN Mayor and Democratic Presidential Candidate based the assumption on statistical probability rather than the innuendo which has become part of political lore. Buttigieg made the observation in response to allegations he’s “too gay” to be president.

“People will elect the person who will make the best president,” Buttigieg said. “And we have had excellent presidents who have been young. We have had excellent presidents who have been liberal. I would imagine we’ve probably had excellent presidents who were gay—we just didn’t know which ones.”

Related: Writer questions if Pete Buttigieg is “gay enough” to be the first gay president. Cue the outrage.

When pressed about which presidents were gay, Buttigieg punted. “My gaydar doesn’t even work that well in the present, let alone retroactively,” he quipped. At 37, the Afghan war veteran has come under fire from Republicans for both his age and sexuality.

Historically, scholars have debated the sexualities of several US Presidents. Rumors about James Buchanan dogged the President even during his lifetime, and several historians generally accept that he likely had an affair with William Rufus King. A number of biographers have also suggested Abraham Lincoln had gay affairs, including playwright Larry Kramer.