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Remember the Two Men on the Titanic Who History Thinks Were a Couple?

Remember the Two Men on the Titanic Who History Thinks Were a Couple?

archibald butt and francis millet

Archibald Butt and Francis Davis Millet were on a European vacation together when they boarded the Titanic.

Thanks to James Cameron, many of us have a romanticized view of the RMS Titanic, but for two passengers, the deadly trip could have actually started as a romantic gay vacation.

Archiblad Butt and Francis Davis Millet were two prominent men who were well-known in the military, political, and art circles of their time. Butt was an army officer and aide to presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Taft. Millet was a classical painter, sculptor, and writer who was friends with people like Mark Twain and John Singer Sargent.

Butt and Millet soon became close friends, and even bought a mansion together that they lived in and hosted large parties for their political friends. While Butt never married, and while Millet did, he lived separately from his wife for most of their marriage. He also had an affair with travel journalist Charles Warren Stoddard.

Just before their trip on the Titanic, Butt was in the middle of a political fight between his friends Presidents Taft and Roosevelt that was causing him a lot of stress. Millet convinced him to go on a European vacation with him.

In March 1912, the two shared a stateroom on the ship Berlin as it sailed to Europe. After their vacation together, the two boarded the Titanic, where they had separate rooms. That was the last they were seen alive.

While we don’t know for sure the two were a couple, many historians strongly believe they were.

“The enduring partnership of Butt and Millet was an early case of ‘Don't ask, don't tell,’” historian Richard Davenport-Hines wrote in 2012. “Washington insiders tried not to focus too closely on the men's relationship, but they recognized their mutual affection. And they were together in death as in life.”

Even the National Park Service includes a fountain dedicated to the two men in its list of LGBTQ+ Memorials. “The two were close companions; they shared a house for many years and are widely believed to have been romantically involved with one another,” its website reads.

The Titanic will always be one of history’s most fascinating disasters, and now, it seems it may be a part of gay history as well.

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