In a letter penned before his marriage, former President Barack Obama shared intimate thoughts with his then-girlfriend, Alex McNear. The letter, revealed by the New York Post and sourced from Obama biographer David Garrow, indicated that Obama’s “mind is androgynous.” In the letter, Obama also expressed his perspective on homosexuality, noting that he imagines himself in romantic situations with men, although only in his thoughts. He emphasizes his desire to think beyond the gender binary, although he acknowledges and accepts his physical male identity.
“In regard to homosexuality, I must say that I believe this is an attempt to remove oneself from the present, a refusal perhaps to perpetuate the endless farce of earthly life. You see, I make love to men daily, but in the imagination.”
“My mind is androgynous to a great extent and I hope to make it more so until I can think in terms of people, not women as opposed to men. But, in returning to the body, I see that I have been made a man, and physically in life, I choose to accept that contingency,”
The existence of this letter came to light during an interview with Garrow about his 2017 biography of Obama, titled “Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama.” Initially, McNear had redacted a particular paragraph discussing homosexuality when she handed the letter over to Garrow for his book. However, she later sold the unredacted original, which eventually found its way to Emory University. While Garrow was denied permission to photograph the letter at the university, his friend Harvey Klehr was able to copy its contents, which was then shared with the New York Post.
Emory University possesses a collection of nine letters from Obama that range from 1982 to 1984, shortly after he transferred to Columbia University. This collection showcases the journey and introspection of a young man seeking meaning and identity in his life, as described by Emory University’s Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library Director, Rosemary Magee.