The Home Front: 1861 to 1865
Walt and the Other Whitmans
What did Whitman say about the soldiers? Was he gay?
Walt Whitman definitely loved men. Whether he had any interest in women as well is a matter of lively debate. But his wartime journals and record books show an intense interest in men of all types, sizes, and physiques. Some deride or downplay Walt Whitman’s actions on behalf of the soldiers, saying that he was merely a gay man who used his vocation for the vicarious thrills of mingling with the men. If any truth can be found in this, it certainly is not the whole truth. As Whitman expressed it in Leaves of Grass:
Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
I am large, I contain multitudes.