It was Lem Billings, whos platonic relationship with president Kennedy was arguably the deepest and most meaningful relationship of JFK’s life. Certainly far deeper and richer than his marriage. And, yes, Billings was gay. There’s a new book on their friendship: Jack and Lem. Poignant quote from Billings:
"Jack made a big difference in my life. Because of him, I was never lonely. He may have been the reason I never got married. I mean, I could have had a wife and family, but what the hell – do you think I would have had a better life having been Jack Kennedy’s best friend, having been with him during so many moments of his presidency, having had my own room at the White House, having had the best friend anybody ever had – or having been married, and settled down and living somewhere?"
In those days, maybe that was the best many gay men could hope for. I’m grateful to live in a time when there are more options. But friendship between gay and straight men is still a great virtue; and friendship itself perhaps our least appreciated virtue of all.