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Were These Two Famous Victims Of The Titanic Sinking Secretly Gay Lovers?

Were These Two Famous Victims Of The Titanic Secretly Gay Lovers?

Archibald Butt and Francis Davis Millet

Archibald Butt and Francis Davis Millet were believed to have been in a secret relationship.

Archibald Butt and Francis Davis Millet, two prominent men who died during the 1912 sinking of the Titanic, may have been in a gay relationship, historians say.

Butt was an esteemed presidential aide who worked for both Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. Millet was a celebrated classical painter known especially for his murals.

While the two never disclosed the nature of their relationship, they lived together in a Washington mansion and travelled Europe as a pair in the weeks leading up to the Titanic disaster.

British historian and Oxford Fellow Richard Davenport-Hines wrote in 2012 that "the enduring partnership of Butt and Millet was an early case of ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell,'" while the National Park Service notes on their website that "two were close companions...widely believed to have been romantically involved with one another."

Millet, who married and had children but lived away from his wife, was once involved in a romantic affair with travel writer Charles Warren Stoddard, a fact confirmed by love letters exchanged between them. Butt never married, and the frequent rumors that he would soon announce his engagement to a woman never came to fruition. In his letters, Butt referred to Millet as "my artist friend who lives with me."

On the public's knowledge of Butt and Millet's relationship, Davenport-Hines writes, "Washington insiders tried not to focus too closely on the men's relationship, but they recognized their mutual affection."

The two were also known for throwing extravagant parties for Washington, D.C.'s upper crust at their Foggy Bottom mansion.

Before their deaths, Butt and Millet spent time together in Europe. Per The Washington Post, they shared a stateroom on the ship Berlin during their overseas journey. On their tragic return voyage aboard the Titanic, however, the men stayed in separate rooms.

Millet sent one letter from the Titanic while stopped in Ireland, in which he complained about "a number of obnoxious, ostentatious American women" onboard with him.

Both Millet and Butt, 63 and 46 respectively, perished during the sinking of the Titanic on April 15, 1912. Eyewitnesses reported seeing Butt standing next to American business magnate John Jacob Astor as the ship went down. While Millet's remains were recovered and buried in Massachusetts, Butt's body was never found.

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