Richard Nixon: You Were 'Born That Way'
Transcripts and cleaned up audio of secret tapes from the Nixon administration released by Vanity Fair on Thursday are shedding new light on the 37th President's views on LGBT Americans, including the revelation that he believed that gays were "born that way."
"Let me say something before we get off the gay thing. I don't want my views misunderstood. I am the most tolerant person on that of anybody in this shop," Nixon says in the Apr. 28, 1971. "They're born that way. You know that. That's all. I think they are."
His comments were made when he was talking with National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger and Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman over an upcoming youth conference. Nixon, the 37th president, said that he believed gays and lesbians were an important roll in society but added he thought being out in public would ruin communities.
Nixon also cited Oscar Wilde and Aristotle as gay men whom he respected.
"By God, I am not going to have a situation where we pass along a law indicating, 'Well, now, kids, just go out and be gay,'" he said. "They can do it. Just leave them alone. That's a lifestyle I don't want to touch ... "
During his talk, both Kissinger and Haldeman support Nixon's views on homosexuality, and Kissinger suggests that some gay colleagues are in the closet.
"It's one thing for people to, you know, like some people we know, who would do it discreetly, but to make that a national policy," he said.
In 1971, at the end of his first term, President Richard Nixon began secretly taping conversations and phone calls in numerous locations that included the White House, Camp David, Cabinet Room and Old Executive Office Building. Throughout most of the thousands of hours of tape, the sound quality is often
2,600 hours the Nixon tapes have been made available to the public through the Nixon Presidential Library. Tapes from July 1972 through July 1973 can be heard online here.