Why Alexander Hamilton?
In order to further understand why the late founding Commander of
The Alexander Hamilton American Legion Post 448 promoted recognition
and honor of Alexander Hamilton, perhaps we should turn to the book
"HOMOAFFECTIONALISM" which he authored and was published in April
1993 by GLB Publishers in San Francisco, California USA.
In the preface, Commander Paul Hardman included the following
definitions: Homosexual: The coinage of the word which deals with
same-sex erotic behavior is credited to Karoli Kertbeny (Karl Maria
Benkert, 1824-1882). He was a literary scholar and a Hungarian who
wrote in German under the name Benkert.
The word may have been coined in response to the need for a term
other than "unnatural indecency" used in the repressive laws of
Prussia at the time. Homoerotic: The word is usually defined as
relating to homosexual expression.
In this text, the word will be used to describe conduct involving
same-sex activity regardless of sexual orientation. The connotation
here includes lust, and not necessarily affection.
Homoaffectionalism: As coined by the author, the word means same-sex
relationships which do not necessarily involve homosexual sex acts,
but do include strong emotional bonding, which may or may not
include sexual conduct. The emphasis is on affection and bonding
regardless of any carnal involvement. As defined, it recognizes the
phenomenon of mutual altruism between individuals of the same gender
and recognizes the basis of mutual support, loyalty, and cooperation
needed (in our view) to allow civilization to develop. It would be
difficult to imagine a military organization that does not rely on
Homoaffectionalism for maintaining loyalty among its members.
Today, these relationships might be referred to as a "bromance".
The following letter, which will be quoted in pertinent part, was
written by Hamilton when he was twenty-two years of age. It was
written to his friend colonel John Laurens, who was a few years
older than Hamilton. Laurens was the son of the President of the
Continental congress, Henry Laurens, the dating of the letter was
made by scholars, based on internal evidence: April, 1779:
Cold in my professions, warm in my friendships, I wish, my
Dear Laurens, it might be in my power, by action rather than
words to convince you that I love you. I shall only tell you
that 'til you bade us Adieu, I hardly knew the value you had
taught my heart to set upon you. Indeed, my friend, it was
not well done. You know the opinion I entertain of mankind,
and how much it is my desire to preserve myself free from
particular attachments, and to keep my happiness independent
of the caprice of others. You should not have taken
advantage of my sensibility to steal into my affections
without my consent. But as you have done it, and as we are
generally indulgent to those we love, I shall not scruple to
pardon the fraud you have committed, on condition that for
my sake, if not for your own, you will always continue to
merit the partiality, which you have artfully instilled into
me. (Pages 192-3)
A web search
produced the following:
Hamilton, Alexander (1757-1804)
Still, writing before the consciousness of homosexuality as a
medical or identity category had made same-sex bonds suspect,
Atherton presented the romantic relationship of the two young men
straightforwardly, even effusively. She wrote that Laurens "took
Hamilton by storm, capturing judgment as well as heart, and loving
him as ardently in return."
Her views are never clearer than in her description of Hamilton's
reaction to the death of Laurens. "Hamilton mourned him
passionately, and never ceased to regret him . . . Betsey [Schuyler
Hamilton] consoled, diverted, and bewitched him, but there were
times when he would have exchanged her for Laurens." She adds, with
some regret, "The perfect friendship of two men is the deepest and
highest sentiment of which the finite mind is capable; women miss
the best in life."
In Jonathan Katz's pioneering Gay American History: Lesbians and Gay
Men in the U.S.A. (1976), the relationship between Hamilton and
Laurens was for the first time read through the lens of a
sophisticated understanding of same-sex love and sexual
relationships as historically contingent. He places the letters in
the social context of their time without excusing their effusive
language as merely a convention or describing them in terms of
brotherhood or idealized friendship.
Katz points out that, given the number of classical allusions in the
letters, Hamilton and Laurens saw the model for their relationship
as Greek, and suggests that these classical allusions may have been
"one of the semisecret languages used by American homosexuals to
speak of those same-sex relations otherwise unnamable among
The memory of Alexander Hamilton and John Laurens lives on at the
Alexander Hamilton Post 448 of the American Legion in San Francisco,
the only branch of the organization comprised primarily of GLBT
Despite the opposition of some other American Legion members, Post
448 received its charter in 1985. Since then they have regularly
marched in both San Francisco's Gay Pride Parades and Veterans' Day
Parades. They also sent contingents to the 1993 March on Washington
and to the Stonewall 25 Parade in New York in 1994 and served as the
color guard at Gay Games II in 1986. The members of Alexander
Hamilton Post 448 are dedicated to the welfare of GLBT veterans and
current service personnel and strongly advocate the repeal of the
military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.
teaches French and Spanish at the University of Michigan-Dearborn.
She freelances as a writer, tutor, and translator. She is Assistant
to the General Editor of www.glbtq.com.