Inside JFK’s Intimate Relationship With Gay Best Friend Who Had His Own Room In The White House

Photo: Wikipedia Commons
Inside JFK’s Close Relationship With Lem Billings

Although there have been several rumors throughout the decades of JFK being romantically involved with Marilyn Monroe, the former president has also faced rumors of a relationship with his gay best friend Lem Billings. 

John F. Kennedy and Kirk LeMoyne "Lem" Billings met in 1933 as sophomores at Choate Rosemary Hall, a Connecticut prep school where they worked on their class yearbook together.

Supposedly Billings had written a love note on a piece of toilet paper while the two were still in school. According to Jerry Oppenheimer, author of ‘RFK Jr.: Robert F. Kennedy and the Dark Side of the Dream’, Kennedy responded, “please don’t write to me on toilet paper anymore. I’m not that kind of boy.” 

However, according to Lawrence J. Quirk, author of ‘The Kennedy’s In Hollywood’ JFK’s reaction to Billings quickly changed. 

Did John F. Kennedy and Lem Billings have a relationship?

The pair had a three-decades long friendship that some have speculated may have also included a romantic affair. 

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Quirk claims he first met Billings at Kennedy’s first congressional campaign and, as they became closer, he says Billing’s claimed that his relationship with Kennedy was sexual. 

Quirk alleged that Billing and Kennedy’s relationship included oral sex with JFK always being on the receiving end. 

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Quirk explained this “'enabled Jack to sustain his self-delusion that straight men who received oral sex from other males were really only straights looking for sexual release. Jack was in love with Lem being in love with him and considered him the ideal follower adorer.”

Lem Bellings had his own room at the White House.

After Kennedy’s election Billings would frequently be an overnight guest, which supposedly upset the First Lady, Jackie Kennedy. 

Their close relationship also caused his advisors to fear blackmail and political repercussions from Russian agents. 

Writer Gore Vidal once called Billings the “chief f****t at Camelot” and said Kennedy “felt quite comfortable in the company of homosexuals as long as they were smart enough to hold his interest.” 

But Billings remained closeted publicly for his life.

Billings was devastated after the JFK assassination. Biographer Sally Bedell Smith referred to Billings as “probably the saddest of the Kennedy widows.”  

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Then, when Robert Kennedy was assassinated in 1968, his wife Ethel Skakel had Billings act as the surrogate father to her son Bobby Jr.

But, the Skakel’s had previously been homophobic to Billings.

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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During their wedding in Greenwich, Connecticut, Ethel’s brother knocked Billings down the aisle at the church. 

Billings reportedly formed an close relationship with Bobby Kennedy Jr. 

David Pitts, author of 'Jack and Lem: The Untold Story of an Extraordinary Friendship' said “Lem was a gay man and he had a 14-year-old, good-looking kid living in his house with him and there have been rumors because of that. I have no evidence one way or another, but I would discount [any sexual activity.]”

However, Oppenheimer said, “Billings was viewed by many I interviewed for my biography of RFK Jr. as his gay Svengali who guided and literally tried to control every aspect of Bobby Jr.’s life from the time he was in his mid-teens.” 

A source had told Oppenheimer, “Young Bobby replaced Jack in Lem’s heart of hearts.” 

Lem Billings passed away from a heart attack at 65 in 1981. Bobby Kennedy Jr. read the eulogy. 

“'I'm sure he's already organizing everything in heaven so it will be completely ready for us — with just the right Early American furniture, the right curtains, the right rugs, the right paintings, and everything ready for a big, big party,” he said. 

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Sydney Taylor is a writer who focuses on News and Entertainment topics.