Friday, November 24, 2017

Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill: Chapter 12

In Chapter Eleven, Wyatt is told by Principal Jackson that he has to stop saying that Lincoln was gay or he'll be suspended, and gets a letter from the librarian Mr. Clifton threatening a lawsuit, too. Wyatt reaches out to a civil rights organization for help, and speaks with Martin, the civil rights attorney's son. Wyatt learns that he has the right to say what he wants... And then he discovers that the librarian wants the book back to destroy it, to hide the history of Lincoln loving Joshua Fry Speed forever. Wyatt know he can't let that happen.

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Okay community, here's Chapter Twelve!

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Chapter 12

Wyatt Yarrow’s Book Report Blog for Mr. Guzman’s 9th Grade History Class.
Lincolnville High School.
Book: Joshua Fry Speed: Lincoln’s Most Intimate Friend by Robert Kincaid.


Blog Post: Friday, January 16, 11:18 p.m.
More Proof President Abraham Lincoln Was Gay: An Annotated Letter!

Okay, Mr. Guzman. Here’s the letter Abraham Lincoln sent to Joshua Fry Speed on February 13, 1842 (from pages 47-48 in my book.) I’ve added my own comments along-side Abe’s lines. And the post after this is photos of my whole book, where you can see the letter yourself.

“Springfield, Illinois, February 13, 1842 Abe is 33, and it’s just over a year since he broke his engagement to Mary Todd by being a no-show on their wedding day. Dear Speed: Yours of the 1st instant came to hand three or four days ago. When this shall reach you, you will have been Fanny’s husband several days. You know my desire to befriend you is everlasting; that I will never cease while I know how to do anything. In the letters before this one, Abe has been trying to convince Joshua that they should both marry women, even though they’re in love with each other. Now, Joshua has just married Fanny. “My desire to befriend you is everlasting” is Abe saying he still loves Joshua. But you will always hereafter be on ground that I have never occupied, and consequently, if advice were needed, I might advise wrong. I do fondly hope, however, that you will never again need any comfort from abroad. Abe’s hoping marrying a woman will satisfy Joshua so he won’t need Abe’s love in the same way any more. Abe is hoping this is true for him, too. He’s hoping he can live in the closet. But should I be mistaken in this, should excessive pleasure still be accompanied with a painful counterpart at times, still let me urge you, as I have ever done, to remember, in the depth and even the agony of despondency, that very shortly you are to feel well again. The pleasure is their getting married to women and living ‘acceptable’ lives. The pain – the depths, “even the agony of despondency” – that Abe and Joshua have to be apart even though they love each other because society won’t accept them as they really are: gay and in love. I am now fully convinced that you love her as ardently as you are capable of loving. Your ever being happy in her presence, and your intense anxiety about her health, if there were nothing else, would place this beyond all dispute in my mind. Abe is trying to convince Joshua that Joshua loves Fanny. At least as much as Joshua is “capable of loving” a woman. I incline to think it probable that your nerves will fail you occasionally for a while; but once you get them fairly graded now, that trouble is over forever. Joshua’s “nerves” failing him is that he doesn’t really love Fanny, he loves Abe, but he went through with marrying Fanny because that’s what society expected him to do. Abe is giving him a pep talk, saying he can do it, he can pretend, and that the longer he does it, the easier it will get. And now that he’s married a woman, everyone will think Joshua is straight and “that trouble is over forever.” I think, if I were you, in case my mind were not exactly right, I would avoid being idle. I would immediately engage in some business, or go to making preparations for it, which would be the same thing. Or maybe Joshua just shouldn’t think about it too much, and should distract himself with something else – anything else. If you went through the ceremony calmly, or even with sufficient composure not to excite alarm in any present, you are safe beyond question, and in two or three months, to say the most, will be the happiest of men. This is the smoking gun: Abe is reassuring Joshua that if he was able to get through the marriage ceremony without anyone becoming alarmed – if he stayed calm, if he kept his composure – then he is now “safe beyond question.” How much more obvious do we need Abe’s words to be? What else could Joshua have been so panicked about, in marrying Fanny? What else about Joshua would Abe have been concerned would alarm the people who were at the wedding? They’re talking about Joshua being gay, about Abe and Joshua being in love, and about no one being the wiser about it at the wedding. It was no accident that Abe wasn’t at his best friend’s wedding! If he had been there, would Joshua have been able to go through with it? Would they, together, have excited “alarm” in everyone present? You bet. I would desire you to give my particular respects to Fanny; but perhaps you will not wish her to know you have received this, lest she should desire to see it. Make her write me an answer to my last letter to her at any rate. I would set great value upon another letter from her. Write me whenever you have leisure. Abe knows Joshua will want to keep this letter secret from Fanny. Neither of them want Fanny to know the truth, that this letter pretty much spills! Yours forever,                                          A. Lincoln He signed it “Yours forever” – he loves the guy! It’s pretty interesting that the letters Abe wrote Mary once they got married (like the one he wrote her on June 12, 1848) were signed “Affectionately,” which sounds a lot less affectionate! P.S. I have been quite a man since you left.” Check out the p.s.! This is like some secret code between Abe and Joshua, where being ‘a man’ is acting straight, or dating women. “I have been quite a man since you left” is all about Abe letting Joshua know that since Joshua left Springfield – since Joshua left Abe and the bed they shared for those four years – Abe has been doing the same thing Joshua has: covering up the truth about his being gay, and going out with ladies. Maybe he’s even hinting here that he might get back together with Mary. Which Abe does, marrying her on November 4th of this same year! By marrying Fanny, Joshua is now “safe,” and Abe won’t be “safe” until he gets married to a woman, too.

You wanted proof that Lincoln was gay? That he was in love with Joshua Fry Speed?
There you have it – in his own words!
Oh, and one more thing: February 13, the day Abraham Lincoln wrote this letter? That’s the day after Abe’s birthday. The day before Valentine’s Day.

And it’s one heck of a love letter.
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Endnotes for Chapter 12 -->
Wyatt annotates the letter Abe sent Joshua on February 13, 1842. It is indeed found on pages 47-48 of Joshua Fry Speed: Lincoln’s Most Intimate Friend. Contrasting the “Yours forever” sign-off to Joshua, Wyatt references a letter Lincoln wrote his wife Mary where the sign-off was “Affectionately.” That June 12, 1848 letter to Mary is on pages 21-22 of The Words of Abraham Lincoln, Selected and with an introduction by Larry Shapiro, Newmarket Press, 2009. That same letter to Mary is also found on pages 70-71 of Lincoln at Home: Two Glimpses of Abraham Lincoln’s Family Life. Lincoln at Home also includes four additional letters from Abe to Mary that are all signed in the same way, found on pages 69, 71-73, 74-76 and 88-89. One letter, on pages 61-65, is signed “Most Affectionately.” There are also 30 letters Abe wrote to Mary in that same book with no sign-off, just the “A. Lincoln” signature, and you can find them on pgs. 83-112.
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