Buchanan served as the 15th president of the United States, from 1857 until he was replaced by Abraham Lincoln in 1861. Historians such as James Loewen recently argued enough evidence exists to suggest he may have been our first gay president – but he wasn’t out. Buchanan was the only president who never married, although he lived together with William Rufus De Vane King for more than twenty years. This was not unheard of at the time, yet contemporaries reportedly described King as “Miss Nancy” and Buchanan’s “better half,” according to Loewen.
And then there’s a passage from a letter Buchanan wrote to a friend, following King’s departure to become the minister to France:
“I am now solitary and alone, having no companion in the house with me. I have gone a wooing to several gentlemen, but have not succeeded with any one of them. I feel that it is not good for man to be alone; and should not be astonished to find myself married to some old maid who can nurse me when I am sick provide good dinners for me when I am well, and not expect from me any very ardent or romantic affection.”
Assuming historians like Loewen are correct, the prejudices of Buchanan’s time likely prevented him from ever outing himself. But from zero, there’s nowhere to go but up, right?