Readers Angered by Gay Abe Story
Fitzgerald, Mark, Editor & Publisher
More than a month after The State Journal-Register in Springfield, Ill.,
published a story that largely debunked a claim that Abraham Lincoln was homosexual, readers in the Old Railsplitter's hometown are still mad as hell.
"It's been ugly. I have not liked it. Our readers have leveled the charge that we are the National Enquirer, that we're supermarket-tabloid journalists," says managing editor Barry Locher. As recently as June 24, Locher fielded a cancellation call from a subscriber who cited the May 16 story as the reason. "We've had about 10 cancellations, but to me personally that's a huge number."
The story by staff writer Jefferson Robbins reported claims by gay playwright and political activist Larry Kramer that he had a diary by Lincoln's best friend Joshua Speed with passages indicating homosexual activity. Speed and Lincoln, like many single men in frontier towns, shared a bed when living in Springfield. The story quotes from several serious Lincoln scholars who are deeply skeptical of the claims. …