America’s greatest poet, the gay Walt Whitman, provided us with our core gay identity 150 years ago with his notion of the “great poet,” combining it with a passion to “cheer up slaves and horrify despots” and touting the virtues of democracy in his epochal work, “Leaves of Grass.”
The “great poet” was inseparable from the felling of tyrants and the promotion of the disenfranchised through the promotion of mighty institutions of righteousness and democracy. This notion of “gay sensibility” is fully compatible with, indeed, a very spirit of our noble United States of America.
Sorry, right wingers, America is, at its core, very gay.
Dating back to the earliest times of recorded history, great poets and intimate same-sex affection have been associated with the conquest of tyrants and the establishment of virtuous governments. The first and most famous case is that of the young David who slew Goliath in the Old Testament.
David was more than just a prototypical underdog, he was destined to become one of the greatest poets in history (author of most of the Old Testament “Psalms”), the subject of the longest account of an intimate interpersonal relationship in the entire Bible, involving Jonathan for whom his love “passed the love of women,” and the great king of a righteous people.
“Your love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women,” David said of Jonathan at Jonathan’s funeral (2 Samuel 1:27), following earlier Biblical accounts of the two exchanging clothing, embracing, weeping together, hugging and kissing each other.
Based on the notion of “gay sensibility” that I have earlier established, it is not necessary to prove the nature of this relationship by deducing that there must have been explicit sex between the two.
No, here is “gay sensibility” explicitly and deliberately reported by the author of 1 and 2 Samuel and preserved in the Old Testament, presented as a key element for understanding David, inclusive of his tyrant-slaying, poetry and nation building.
Sorry, right wingers, the Bible is, at its core, very gay.
As with the ancient Greek city states, the correlation of “gay sensibility” with the construct of just, democratic institutions of government emerged again in the Renaissance when the image and spirit of David became the signature of Renaissance culture.
David, as the slayer of tyrants, was adopted by the Florentines as the patron and protector of their democracy. In fact, the first large free-standing statue in 1,000 years was of a bronze David, crafted by Donatello.
With the head of Goliath under his boot and sword, in this famous statue, young David appears as a downright “flamer,” sporting a fey hat and an angelic face. Later alternatives to Donatello’s rendering by Verrocchio and Michelangelo (the most famous one) did away with the swish, and presented a more conventional hero.
When America’s Founding Fathers grappled with how to construct an enduring union based on certain “inalienable rights” extending to all persons, they had few precedents to rely upon but the works of the ancient Greeks, including the great homosexual Socrates and the extensive pro-homosexual symposiums and dialogues in which he took part.
One of the most eloquent apologists for Greek models of democracy, law and justice, author of at least 51 of the 85 Federalist Papers in the earliest days of the American republic, was Founding Father Alexander Hamilton.
It is well known to Hamiltonian scholars and historians the intense, intimate relationship between the young, brilliant Hamilton and John Laurens (i.e. Ron Chernow, “Alexander Hamilton,” 2004). “I wish, my Dear Laurens, it m(ight) be in my power, by action rather than words, (to) convince you that I love you,” a young Hamilton (born in 1755 or 1757) wrote in one of many affectionate correspondences with his contemporary in George Washington’s revolutionary army in the 1779-82 period before Laurens’ premature death in a military foray in August 1782.
Hamilton had it very rough being born and growing up in the British West Indies, his father deserting his mother and living branded as a bastard (all his life, actually), then becoming orphaned and a virtual street urchin at age 14.
An older patron recognized his brilliance, however, sponsored him and turned his life around. At 17, Hamilton, described as “bookish, delicate and frail,” published his first poem in a newspaper in St. Croix. An articulate author and brilliant thinker, once in the colonies, he was recruited at age 20 by Washington to be his aide-de-camp in the revolution.
His relationship with Laurens, who was born to a high station in South Carolina, was based on their shared, passionate anti-slavery, abolitionist sentiments. For Hamilton, his sensibility for the downtrodden extended to the Jews, for whom he had the greatest admiration.
Little doubt why he and Laurens stood so firmly against the tyrant King George III, determined to topple him on behalf of universal human rights.
(To be continued).