Wrote Thomas Balcerski: “Last week, the hashtag #LadyGraham exploded on social media in response to allegations made on Twitter by gay adult-film star Sean Harding against Sen. Lindsey O. Graham of South Carolina (the hashtag, along with the abbreviated form ‘Lady G,’ purportedly refers to Graham’s nickname among male sex workers). What followed has been a mixed bag of political commentary, wanton speculation and downright trolling.”
Balcerski looked at speculation about other politicians throughout history, including the rumored relationship between “James Buchanan of Pennsylvania and William Rufus King of Alabama, two 19th-century Democratic senators, one who became president, the other who became vice president.”
Balcerski also called out Samuel Tilden, Grover Cleveland, David I. Walsh, Adlai Stevenson, and Cory Booker as subjects of speculation, and offered up Barney Frank and Aaron Schock as examples of closeted politicians who eventually came out.
The writer concluded: “Today, as long ago, lifelong bachelorhood continues to be a liability for politicians like Graham regardless of party. Even as the institution of marriage evolves, suspicions about bachelorhood largely have not. Behind the gossip about Graham and others lay the remnants of a stubbornly pernicious idea: the presumption of heterosexuality for those in positions of power. When combined with the tradition of sexual gossip embedded in American political culture, the sex lives of elected officials, and especially the unmarried, will continue to be grist for the rumor mill.”
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