Richard Nixon Argues Gays Are 'Born That Way' In Newly-Released White House Tapes

07/11/2014 01:30 pm ET | Updated Feb 02, 2016
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A series of newly-released White House recordings are shedding light on former U.S. President Richard Nixon's stance on the gay and lesbian community, among other disclosures.

In the 1971 recordings, which can be heard on Vanity Fair's website, Nixon describes himself as "the most tolerant person," even if he remains hesitant to incorporate those views into a national policy, in a discussion with National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger and Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman ahead of an annual youth conference.

Let me say something before we get off the gay thing. I don’t want my views misunderstood. I am the most tolerant person on that of anybody in this shop. They have a problem. They’re born that way. You know that. That’s all. I think they are.

[But] my point is that Boy Scout leaders, YMCA leaders, and others bring them in that direction, and teachers. And if you look over the history of societies, you will find, of course, that some of the highly intelligent people . . . Oscar Wilde, Aristotle, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, were all homosexuals. Nero, of course, was, in a public way, in with a boy in Rome.

He then adds, "By God, I am not going to have a situation where we pass along a law indicating, 'Well, now, kids, just go out and be gay.' They can do it. Just leave them alone. That’s a lifestyle I don't want to touch..."

You can listen to the recording in full here.

Nixon, who died in 1994 at 81, appears to have had a checkered stance when it came to gay and lesbian rights. In 2013, CNN published an excerpt from another audio tape, which was said to have been recorded sometime during Nixon's time in the Oval Office from 1969-1974.

In that clip, Nixon accused the popular TV series "All in the Family" of "glorifying homosexuality," before noting, "I don't even want to shake hands with anybody from San Francisco!"

According to Queerty, Nixon slammed one of former President Lyndon Johnson's aides as "ill," after the man was allegedly caught having sex with a former sailor in a YMCA bathroom.

Still, in 2011, Don Fulsom's book Nixon's Darkest Secrets: The Inside Story of America's Most Troubled President, claimed that the former president had engaged in a gay affair with Charles "Bebe" Rebozo, a Florida banker apparently with ties to the mob.

Also on HuffPost:

  • Abraham Lincoln
    via WikiCommons
    The 16th president of the United States has long been rumored to have been gay. Numerous historians point to his rocky marriage with Mary Todd Lincoln, as well as the fact that he had very close relationships with several men, including Joshua Speed, who shared his bed for four years. In the New York Times book review of The Intimate World Of Abraham Lincoln by C.A. Tripp, Richard Brookhiser writes: In 1831, when he was 22, Lincoln moved to New Salem, an Illinois frontier town, where he met Billy Greene. Greene coached Lincoln in grammar and shared a narrow bed with him. ''When one turned over the other had to do likewise,'' Greene told Herndon. Bed-sharing was common enough in raw settlements, but Greene also had vivid memories of Lincoln's physique: 'His thighs were as perfect as a human being could be.' Everyone saw that Lincoln was tall and strong, but this seems rather gushing.
  • Richard Nixon
    UPI White House reporter Don Fulsom, who penned the new memoir Nixon's Darkest Secrets, suggested a "homosexual nature" in the relationship between the former U.S. president and his best friend Bebe Rebozo, the president's alleged mob bagman who was at Nixon's side when he died. According to U.S. News & World Report, Fulsom cites several examples of the two men holding hands, sometimes in public, along with cuddling and awkward swimming pool games.
  • Eleanor Roosevelt
    The "First Lady to the World" has long been rumored to have been bisexual or a lesbian. According to Lillian Faderman, author of To Believe in Women, Roosevelt had a long term relationship with journalist Lorena Hickok. The two shared a series of intimate love letters. "Funny, everything I do my thoughts fly to you," Roosevelt reportedly wrote."Never are you out of my heart."
  • Barack Obama
    BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI via Getty Images
    Several different individuals have claimed that President Barack Obama has had relationships with men and that he was involved in the gay community in his younger days. Last November, a woman that claimed to have been a classmate of Obama came out with a story that Obama was not only active within the gay community during his time in Hawaii, but also a heavy cocaine user. Other allegations include a gossip columnist turned Tea Party author in 2012 alleging that the president had been part of Chicago's gay bar and bathhouse scene.
  • Hilary Clinton
    Sean Gardner via Getty Images
    Historically anti-gay pundit Bryan Fischer made comments on his radio show last September that Hilary Clinton could be "our first lesbian president." He based his claims on an interview with Bill Clinton's alleged ex-mistress, Gennifer Flowers, in which she claimed that during their alleged affair Bill Clinton had told her that Hillary was bisexual.
  • J. Edgar Hoover
    Historians have for years speculated about the sexuality of the first FBI chief, J. Edgar Hoover, with some suggesting he was gay and enjoyed cross-dressing, the Daily Mail noted. "He was a man of mystery," director Clint Eastwood told ABC last fall. "He might have been [gay]. I am agnostic about it. I don't really know and nobody really knew."
  • James Buchanan
    Many consider the 15th president of the United States to be our first gay president. Historian James W. Loewen wrote about Buchanan's alleged homosexuality in his book Lies Across America. In it he stated, "I'm sure that Buchanan was gay," and pointed to Buchanan's relationship with William Rufus King, a senator from Alabama. The Washington Blade added: Loewen said contemporary records indicate the two men were inseparable, and wags would refer to them as "the Siamese twins." Loewen also said Buchanan was "fairly open" about his relationship with King, causing some colleagues to view the men as a couple. For example, Aaron Brown, a prominent Democrat, writing to Mrs. James K. Polk, referred to King as Buchanan's "better half," "his wife" and "Aunt Fancy ... rigged out in her best clothes."
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