Show Your Confederate Gay Pride

A number of you passed along this link for the “12 Funniest Items of Confederate Flag Memorabilia.”  While I got a kick out of the Confederate flag toilet paper and “sexy, fiery Confederate flag,” I have to say that the gay pride flag t-shirt takes the cake.  Actually, the blending of a symbol that has become so closely identified with conservative white men and even bikers, along with the colors of the gay community raises a number of questions.

  • Is it possible for gay men to openly express their pride in Confederate heritage?
  • Would the discovery of an individual’s sexuality threaten their standing as a legitimate member of the Confederate heritage community?
  • Were there any gay Confederate soldiers?
  • Were there any gay Confederate officers?
  • Were there any gay Confederate politicians?
  • What was the frequency of gay sexual encounters in Confederate ranks during the war and were those parties any less Confederate?
  • Were there any gay “Christian Warriors” in Confederate ranks? Could there be a gay Christian Warrior in Confederate ranks?  [After all, status as a slaveholder doesn't seem to be a problem for some.]

A few of these questions can be answered by consulting Tom Lowry’s book, The Story the Soldiers Wouldn’t Tell: Sex in the Civil War while others are simply meant to provoke thought.

34 thoughts on “Show Your Confederate Gay Pride

    1. Kevin Levin Post author

      Larry,

      Nah…I think this is where I rely on good old conceptual analysis rather than empirical research in determining the consequences of such a decision. Thanks for the suggestion. :D

      Reply
  1. James F. Epperson

    You need to ask Brooks about a wicked parody/review he did of Dabney Maury’s memoirs, back in the day.

    Reply
  2. Jere Krischel

    C’mon, of course there were gays in the Confederacy! It’s not a choice, it’s just what you are. If any straight man wants to refute that proposition by choosing to be gay for a few weeks, getting a gay boyfriend, having lots of gay sex, watching a lot of gay porn, and of course, choosing to be really really into it before finally choosing to be straight again, I’ll eat my hat.

    Great flag, though, gotta get it for my gay buddies :)

    Reply
    1. Kevin Levin Post author

      Jere,

      If you stick around long enough you will learn how to interpret some of my posts. I am being just a bit facetious here. :D

      Reply
  3. Anonymous

    Kevin,

    Love the post, but “Could there be a gay Christian Warrior in Confederate ranks? [After all, status as a slaveholder doesn't seem to be a problem for some.]“?

    That sort of implies that being gay and being a Christian are somewhat incompatible, just as slaveholding and Christianity seems incompatible to us. Is that really a fair statement to make? Many of the churches I’ve been to openly accept gay members as much as they do straight members.

    Reply
  4. Tom Thompson

    Is it possible for gay men to openly express their pride in Confederate heritage?
    Yes it is POSSIBLE. It is also possible that he will be dragged “nekid” through the streets behind an old pick-up truck, or wired to a barbed wire fence and beaten.

    Would the discovery of an individual’s sexuality threaten their standing as a legitimate member of the Confederate heritage community? – YES

    Were there any gay Confederate soldiers? – You can safely bet there were.

    Were there any gay Confederate officers? – Soldiers become officers.

    Were there any gay Confederate politicians? – More than you care to know.

    What was the frequency of gay sexual encounters in Confederate ranks during the war and were those parties any less Confederate? – I imagine they had to be extremely cautious in practice.

    Were there any gay “Christian Warriors” in Confederate ranks? Could there be a gay Christian Warrior in Confederate ranks? [After all, status as a slaveholder doesn't seem to be a problem for some.] – Seems to me “Christian Warriors” is a redundant term during the Civil War.

    Reply
  5. Nat Turners Son

    Kevin showing up with that flag at a Confederate event would be about as wise as you showing up at a NAACP meeting wearing a Klan Suit.
    It is interesting what people will put a flag on to make a buck.

    Reply
  6. Tim Abbott

    Possibly it is a way of co-opting the sign of the oppressor so that it signifies something affirming. Like the Nazi-era pink triangle of gay oppression now a symbol of militant gay pride (for those for whom a rainbow is not enough). Or a really tongue in cheek gag. That hypothesis works too.

    Reply
    1. Woodrowfan

      Well, I once saw the same Confederate flag in African red/black/green. I imagine that’d make a few SCV heads explode…

      Reply
      1. Jonathan Dresner

        That actually raises another possibility: that it’s a pro-secession statement. There are Africanist secession movements. I’ve never heard of a gay secession movement, but I suppose it could happen….

        Reply
    1. Chris Meekins

      Glenn, your comment has made me smile all the live long day. It is the funniest thing I had read in I don’t know when. Even funnier when you say it out loud.

      Reply
  7. Falcon Taylor

    There were gays in the Civil War, we know that for a fact. Because there have been gay people throughout history. Lowery’s book tells us so, & also I remember an interview with Frank James (the outlaw) in which he said there were boys in the irregulars (the guerrillas) who were “more like girls than boys”. We know that they serviced the boys.
    I mean, let’s face it, humans need sex. And when you get a huge group of people together for an extended period of time, well…
    Tony Horowitz said in Confederates in the Attic that he wondered about these guys because of the way they were – living so close to each other, sleeping together, sewing, dieting (to look like actual Confederates), etc, etc…
    Come on Guys, get real!…

    Reply
  8. Pingback: The Gay Confederate Flag: Or, Burn Down Atlanta « Burn Down Blog

  9. spark240

    Of course there were gay Confederates, but what most of you Yankees miss in these discussions is the fact that, today, Confederate symbology often has nothing, really, to do with the Confederacy–it’s just a signifier for the South. (BTW, that’s a crappy image there, with the ends of the saltire cut off in the corners and the bad edits around the intersection; if anyone is really making these shirts, I hope they look better than that.)

    Reply
    1. Andy Hall

      spark240 wrote:

      Confederate symbology often has nothing, really, to do with the Confederacy–it’s just a signifier for the South.

      No. You can choose your symbol, but you cannot tell others how they must see it. For many in this country, North and South, the Confederate Battle Flag is well-established as a symbol of segregation, white supremacy and the Klan. If the battle flag were something seen only in museums and in battle reenactments, it would be perceived very differently today. But that’s not how it’s been used (and continues to be used), and that’s not how it’s seen. It’s neither an outdated historical artifact, nor a visual shorthand for Southern hospitality and mint juleps.

      And what, please, makes you think we’re all Yankees here? (Not that there’s anything wrong with that, to get us back to the main topic of the thread.)

      Reply
    2. Andy Hall

      I should add, spark240, that I’m not suggesting you believe in any of those odious things. My point is only that, for better or worse, that’s what many people see in that particular symbol, and quite reasonably so.

      Reply
      1. Kevin Levin Post author

        That symbol has a much longer history surrounding issues beyond anything having to do with Confederate soldiers and battlefields. It lost a direct connection to the war years long ago and there ain’t no going’ back. To do so would be to ignore history.

        Reply
        1. Jere Krischel

          It seems that what was already done (the co-opting of the symbol for reasons other than the war) was ignoring history too, though…

          I guess we can get into an infinite regress of chicken, egg, chicken, egg, since which particular error we choose to correct depends arbitrarily on where you draw the temporal line.

          I, for one, would encourage the reclamation of the battle flag back to it’s original historicity, but I don’t have any particularly good ideas on how to do that. I suppose education as to the subtleties and nuances of the Civil War is a good of a start as any, but in order to compete with the negative memes, you’re talking generations of time before you’ve really rehabilitated anything.

          For those who are Gleeks, I’d draw an analogy to the latest episode of Glee which took songs with incredibly disparaged histories and tried to rehabilitate them. It was called “Bad Reputation”, and the “Run Joey, Run” in particular was really, really funny. Sort of like Snakes on a Plane, some things can get so bad that they turn the corner and come back around to being good again.

          Reply
          1. Kevin Levin Post author

            No one has a monopoly on the meaning of symbols. The history is more securely grounded, but like I said it’s been used for way too many purposes to ever be considered simply the flag of Confederate soldiers. I advocate keeping the flag in museums where it can be properly interpreted.

            Reply
          2. Margaret D. Blough

            Jere-I think that ship has sailed. The time to stop the Confederate flag from being the symbol of white supremacy/massive resistance to desegregation was when it was first being used on a large scale for that purpose, especially beginning with the Dixiecrat convention of 1948.
            A dear friend of mine, who belonged to SCV until the recent power struggle & who has always lived in a former rebel state, and I have gotten into this discussion. I always made it clear to him that I had no doubts whatsoever that it was not a symbol of racism for him. However, the point I made was that there were many others who used it for precisely that purpose and that people whom the flag made uncomfortable and angry were not being overly sensitive and/or PC. They were responding to a real message that those others intended to convey. I finally asked him, if he were a Black man walking along a rural road by himself back home and a big old pickup truck carrying a bunch of hooting and hollering good old boys & flying a large Confederate flag approached, would his reaction be “Oh goody, reenactors!” or “I’d better get out of here while I still can.” He thought about it and replied quietly, “I’d think I’d better get out of here while I still can.”

            Reply
    1. Chelsea

      “celebration of treason”. What do you think the Revolution was?! Also, the U.S. embraced slavery looooong before the Con Flag came around. Slavery existed under the American Flag and yet you do not disparage it? Your outright condemnation of the South is precisely what drives people to embrace their Southern Heritage and wave the flag. Then again, it’s a Southern thing, perhaps you wouldn’t understand. *Disclaimer* I’m a proud gay Southerner.

      Reply
      1. Michael Douglas

        ” Your outright condemnation of the South is precisely what drives people to embrace their Southern Heritage and wave the flag. ”

        Really? Waving that flag and embracing southern (you mean Confederate, by the way) heritage is predicated on perceived condemnation (you mean criticism)? That’s damned pathetic and sad.

        Reply
  10. Shimon de Valencia

    the overlaying of new meanings can both condemn and redeem a symbol in our collective subconscious. I have a coillection of Jewish Prayer books with swastikas from before WW1 until those of limited view stole it from us. Southern pride, and possibly the uge fro independance exists separate from the rasicst overtones that affected the whole independence drive. I am all for retaking botrh symbols and concepts and imbuing them with new meaning – Paradigm Shift friends. And as far as corn husk chewing red-necks, well last time I was in the south it was one of these who told me of the hidden ‘Gay history of the South’, so we can’t judge our red-neck by the sunburn under the collar. How many people have read Jefferson Davis’ letter to his wife on being appointed Pres? – if they did he might be a bit more respected outside of the limited circles who incite hate and violence in the name of Confederate Pride. I will be getting one of these flags for sure, and a sticker if I can. Thank you for this.

    Reply
  11. Jonty

    Apparently one of Alexander H. Stephens’ brothers was gay and it’s rumoured the Vice President was himself as well. I’m getting that from the opinion expressed by one of the slaves at the time as quoted in Andrew Ward’s book “The Slaves’ War”.

    Reply
    1. Owen Stephens

      For a man to have exclusively close male friends, remain single his entire life even while in the public eye constantly, have an extremely close lifelong relationship with a General who lived close by, and finally, to have written a Valentine’s Day card in all sincerity to then President Buchanan, might lead one to presume all sorts of things…..LOL. Further, two of his household servants were lovers, he moved in a man the last few years of his life who was considered family, and yes, his brother was most assuredly gay by 1st hand accounts.
      I am researching gay politicians during this period, and so many fall into the mix – Pres. Abe Lincoln, Joshua Speed, Pres. Buchanan, Rufus King (Buchanan’s partner and President pro tem of the US Senate for years, including A.H. Stephens.
      The field is fertile.
      Any comments?
      Input gratefully accepted – you’ll have due mention in the book credits!

      Thanks,

      Owen Stephens

      Reply

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