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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Archibald & Frank

Posted by Dan Savage on Thu, Mar 22, 2012 at 1:29 PM

The Daily uncovers a love story that anti-gay bigotry erased from history:

When the Titanic sank, Maj. Archibald Butt, a military adviser to President William Howard Taft and former aide-de-camp to his predecessor, Theodore Roosevelt, was among the heroes of the hour. Amid the disaster on the night of April 14-15, 1912, Butt fulfilled all the archetypes of manly courage, escorting women from their cabins to lifeboats, standing back to let them live and facing death with selflessness. One of the women he helped to save — he had known her when she gave music lessons to the Roosevelt children in the White House — later testified that after he helped her into the lifeboat, he tucked a blanket around her with careful nonchalance, as if she was going for a breezy ride in an open car.

Taft wept when it was confirmed that Butt was lost in the freezing Atlantic Ocean. Much of Washington grieved.

Also lost with Butt—yes, BUTT—was his "devoted partner," the painter Frank Millet, who had been a drummer boy during the Civil War. You'll have to click through to learn more about this particular detail:

...whipped by his Filipino houseboys.

It's a beautiful story—and it's a damn shame that it took a century for someone to tell it. Go read it.

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