Choate Rosemary Hall, 333 Christian St, Wallingford, CT 06492, Stati Uniti
Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, Stati Uniti
Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey 08544, Stati Uniti
White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20500, Stati Uniti
Allegheny Cemetery, 4715 Penn Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15224, Stati Uniti
Kirk LeMoyne "Lem" Billings (April 15, 1916 – May 28, 1981) was a close and long-time friend of President John F. Kennedy and the Kennedy family. Billings was a prep school roommate of Kennedy, an usher at his wedding and a campaigner for his successful 1960 presidential bid. Joseph Kennedy Sr. called him "my second son," and he sometimes acted as escort for several of the Kennedy women. Billings served with Sargent Shriver as a trustee for the Kennedy family trusts.
Friends from the 1970s confirmed that Billings was homosexual, but not open to discussing it. In 2006, looking back to the Kennedy Administration, Ben Bradlee said: "I suppose it's known that Lem was gay....It impressed me that Jack had gay friends." At the same time, he admitted that no one ever expressed the idea aloud during Kennedy's White House years. Red Fay, a friend of the President from his World War II service, said of Billings: "I didn't see anything overtly gay about him; I think he was neutral." One historian wrote that after the 1963 assassination Billings was: "probably the saddest of the Kennedy 'widows'." Though newspapers often mentioned Billings' attendance at major social events, they identified him either as the escort of a member of the Kennedy family or included him in a list of Kennedy friends. Otherwise he attended without female accompaniment.
Some historians believe that Billings expressed his sexual interest in Kennedy in writing in 1934 and that Kennedy rebuffed his advances. Kennedy knew Billings had rightly been accused of homosexual behavior by a fellow Choate student during their years there. Charles L. Bartlett, a journalist who introduced Kennedy to Jacqueline Bouvier and friend of both Billings and Kennedy, described their relationship: "Lem was a stable presence for Jack. Lem's raison d'être was Jack Kennedy. I don't think it's true that he did not have views of his own, as some have said. He had a very independent mind. He had interests of his own that Jack didn't necessarily share. He certainly didn't have the same interest in politics and women that Jack had." Though Gore Vidal thought Billings was "absolutely nobody," he also believed "it was a good idea that Jack had somebody he could trust like that around him." He believed Billings loved Kennedy. "Jack made a big difference in my life," Billings said. "Because of him, I was never lonely. He may have been the reason I never got married."
Princeton University, NJ
White House, Washington, DC
On May 28, 1981, Billings died in his sleep in his Manhattan apartment following a heart attack. His dying wish was for the young Kennedy men to carry his casket to its final resting place. When they arrived at the cemetery, it was already in place to be lowered. The young Kennedys took the casket and carried it around the grave site before returning it to the burial plot. He is buried in Allegheny Cemetery in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
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