Was Abraham Lincoln gay?

Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln in "Lincoln."

Late in Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln,” when Honest Abe (as played by Daniel Day-Lewis) is wrestling with the decision to press ahead on getting the 13th Amendment passed, he pays a late-night visit to the sleeping quarters of John Hay, a young aide (played by Joseph Cross). There’s much affectionate thigh-patting and hair-tousling, and the scene of Hay asking if Lincoln would like any “company” that night, which got us to wondering: Was that scene meant as a subtle nod the wide-ranging theories about Lincoln’s personal life?

“You mean was he gay?” screenwriter Tony Kushner offers back with a grin. “I think there’s a great deal of reason in the historical record to wonder. There’s absolutely nothing definitive,” he says.

“Given the number of people in Lincoln’s very empyrean realm who were probably or definitely bisexual at least — Michelangelo, Shakespeare, et cetera — I’d say there might be some theory that one could generate that people who really are dealing in that realm aren’t as limited by categories as the rest of us. And I think there is some evidence. I mean, Carl Sandburg said it in 1930. There are spots of lavender in Lincoln’s early life, is the way he put it.”

Sally Field, for her part, is rather particular of Mr. Lincoln, probably because she spent so long playing his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln.

“I say no he wasn’t.,” she says with a laugh.

On a more serious note, she explains that back then, “men were so much more open with their affection for each other. Their letters to each other were, you know, ‘My darling, I miss you.’ They were extraordinary. ‘I long to be in your presence.’ And in today’s homophobic world, you immediately go to that’s where they are. Whether that’s where they were or whether they dabbled, who knew?”

As far as Kushner — who won a Pulitzer Prize for the AIDS drama “Angels in America” — is concerned, this film isn’t trying to say one way or the other.

“I think that it’s a mistake for historians to err on either side,” Kushner explains. “I don’t think we should jump into certainty where there is no certainty, but I also think historians should not say, as some have, he absolutely wasn’t gay or bisexual. We don’t know, and we will never know unless somebody discovers something lying around. So the question is for me, as Sally just said so eloquently at the Human Rights Campaign dinner, so what? Who cares who he wanted to sleep with? He was Abraham Lincoln, a great president.”

One thing is for sure though, and that’s that during the heated political action of the movie, Lincoln certainly wasn’t getting frisky with anyone, male or female.

“In 1865 I feel comfortable in saying in January he wasn’t getting laid by anybody,” Kushner says. “He was very busy the whole time.”

Sure, but what about the scene in question? Even if the movie doesn’t want to say definitively one way or the other if Lincoln was gay, was that late-night confab meant to be a nod to the theories about the sexuality of the 16th president? Yes, Kushner later confides to Metro.

“You’re exactly right,” he says.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

Local

De Blasio, Bratton defend city's efforts after Eric…

Mayor Bill de Blasio justified the city's response to the death of Eric Garner, a Staten Island man who died while in police custody earlier this month.

Local

NYPD: Suspect dead after two U.S. Marshals, cop…

A suspected sex offender died after a shooting at a West Village smoke shop that wounded two U.S. Marshals and an NYPD detective on Monday, officials said.

National

PHOTO: New Zealand Heral uses wrong image to…

The New Zealand Herald made a terrible mistake of using the wrong image to illustrate the tragic death of Staff Sergeant Guy Boyland – a New Zealand-born Israeli soldier who…

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

Entertainment

'Kim Kardashian: Hollywood' game easter eggs and cheats

"Kim Kardashian: Hollywood" is the hottest game of the moment. Here are its best easter eggs as well as some tips and tricks to speed your way to the top.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

MLB

Joe Torre: I'm in Hall of Fame because…

Joe Torre spent 18 years putting together a near Hall of Fame career as a player. But it was the 12 years he spent as…

MLB

Yankees GM Brian Cashman breaks down art of…

The action frequently accelerates as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches, as it will on Thursday.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.

Food

Zagat releases '30 Under 30' list

Zagat releases a list of the people changing the food and drink industry across the country.