On the wall of his room in 1856 (the year after the first edition of Leaves of Grass), Walt Whitman hung three pictures:
- and a satyr.
(We know this courtesy of Bronson Alcott’s visit.)
And yet, for decades, critics continued to debate Whitman’s sexuality. Harold Bloom even alleged Whitman was a celibate virgin.
I finished Walt Whitman: A Gay Life by Gary Schmidgall today. It’s an effusive affirmation of the Walt’s homosexuality, written by a gay academic who grew up before Stonewall and came out in his 30s. I loved how this book laid out quote after quote, almost rolling its eyes at everyone who still can’t admit Walt was gay.
Walt was gay. He liked younger men—the rougher, the better. He kept lists with names, ages, occupations of every man who ever caught his eye. He wrote his poems for America, but also for his “comrades,” the boys who knew how to read subtext.
Don’t let any English teacher tell you different.