News » Politics

Obama’s Historic Moment Makes Magazine Covers

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Tuesday May 15, 2012

The fallout from President Obama's support of gay marriage last week is finding its way to newsstands.

Two major magazines, Newsweek and the New Yorker, made Obama's support for marriage equality the focus of their covers, albeit in different ways.

The New Yorker cover features a drawing of the White House with its six columns colored to match the rainbow flag, an international symbol of the LGBT community.

In a statement, artist Bob Staake said of his cover, "I am honored to be doing this cover. It's a celebratory moment for our country, and that's what I tried to capture. (I don't especially like those rainbow colors, but they are what they are-I had to use them.) I wanted to celebrate the bravery of the President's statement - a statement long overdue - but all the more appreciated in this political year. We are on the right side of history."

Arousing controversy

Newsweek chose to label Obama as the country’s "first gay president" and etched a rainbow-hued halo over his head. It was accompanied with a story by Andrew Sullivan - the well-known conservative gay blogger.

The Newsweek cover comes days after a controversial Time Magazine cover featuring a mother breast-feeding a young boy with a headline that read, "Are You Mom Enough?" When Tina Brown, editor of Newsweek, saw the Time Magazine cover, she laughed and said, "let the games begin."

"You want people to engage and react," Michael Caruso, the editor-in-chief of Smithsonian magazine and a former colleague of Brown, told the Washington Post. "You want it to be talked about. You want to be at the center of controversy. That’s what Tina is fantastic at."

In a statement to Politico, Brown said, "If President Clinton was the ’first black president’ then Obama earns every stripe in that ’gaylo’ with last week’s gay marriage proclamation ... Newsweek’s cover pays tribute to his newly ordained place in history."

Anticipating Newsweek’s cover, the staff of the New Republic came up with some designs of their own. Last March, Chris Hughes, founder of Facebook (who is openly gay), bought the publication and appointed himself as editor in chief and publisher.

Today Newsweek released other prototypes of the cover that the magazine rejected. view them here.

Aunt Fancy and Miss Nancy

But is Obama really the first "gay" president?

It has been speculated by many historians that our 15th president, James Buchanan, was actually gay. He was the only president who never married and for 15 years lived in Washington D.C. with his close friend, Alabama Senator William Rufus King. King became Franklin Pierce’s vice president but died shortly after Pierce’s inauguration - four years before Buchanan took office.

Andrew Jackson, the seventh president of the U.S., commented on Buchanan and King’s relationship and called King "Miss Nancy" and "Aunt Fancy." Aaron V. Brown, the postmaster general in Buchanan’s administration, referred to the men as "Buchanan and his wife."

In May 1844, Buchanan wrote to a Mrs. Roosevelt (otherwise unidentified, but probably an ancestor of the presidential clan), "I am now ’solitary and alone’, having no companion in the house with me. I have gone a wooing to several gentlemen, but have not succeeded with any one of them. I feel that it is not good for man to be alone, and [I] should not be astonished to find myself married to some old maid who can nurse me when I am sick, provide good dinners for me when I am well, and not expect from me any very ardent or romantic affection."


  • Oh Jed said:, 2012-05-23 00:46:24

    WOW! Aunt Fancy? did not know that. Very interesting. Love the New Yorker cover,..although slightly predictable, still subtle and meaningful. It looks suitable for framing with a white mat and a big, fancy frame. Don’t care for the Newsweek cover... seems disrespectful, flippant and boring.

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