Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Was Archie Butt Gay?
It has come to my attention that 1st class passenger and Titanic victim Maj. Archibald Butt has been described as gay and more specifically, it's been said that he and Frank Millet were partners. I can only attribute it to our current fascination with sexuality, something that was not discussed at that time since it was considered improper to do so along with a search to find a gay people in history of influence. With me having a particular interest in Archie, I took it upon myself to confirm or deny the rumors in an unbiased fashion.
It has been noted that Archie never made any indication that he was gay because he was a self conscious person who would never have put something like that on paper. While there is some truth to that, I find it interesting that Archie never really included Frank Millet in his personal scrapbooks which he made for his eyes only that included things from the most important people in his life. One would think his "one true love" would at least be mentioned in some ways.
While this has not been mentioned by proponents of Archie's homosexuality, people are claiming Abraham Lincoln was gay because he slept in the same bed with men. Archie did sleep with a man for a long time when he was a young journalist. But it was not uncommon for men to sleep with other men to save money which it was noted by one of them was the reason for their doing so. It has also been noted that Archie shared his house in Washington D.C. with several men, but again, it was not uncommon for men to live together.
There seems to be no recurring man in Archie's letters which would indicate any interest. On the flip side, Archie in the letters he wrote almost every day to his mother and then to his sister-in-law show a clear interest in 2-3 women, but most emphatically with Mathilde Townsend, and his letters show that when he fell in love with someone, she would show up over and over in his letters.
Before leaving for Europe on the Berlin in 1912, Archie was asked if he would get married. Archie replied that he hoped so because his life was miserable.
Francis D. Millet was a homosexual in his younger days. He lived with a man named Charles Stoddard and letters from Millet to Stoddard reveal that they did have a homosexual relationship which ended with Stoddard leaving Millet. Eventually, Millet married a woman and had children. But Millet's profession as an artist meant that he was gone a lot, taking on many projects of national and international significance. It's possible he had relationships with men while he was away from his wife, but such things are not recorded to my knowledge.
Conclusion: We don't know and likely will never know if Archie Butt was gay. He certainly bore certain stereotypical characteristics such as closeness to his mother and some flamboyance, but that does not prove anything. It is my opinion that he was not gay, just because we don't have any evidence of his well recorded life that would suggest that he was gay. Unless such evidence arises, he will remain in my view a straight man that was simply unlucky in his relationships with women. I must point out that he was an amazing man either way. He rendered invaluable service to two presidents and saved lives by helping women and children into the boats. A person's sexuality should not change how we view who he was.