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Bayard Taylor (January 11, 1825 - December 19, 1878), is a well-known figure of the American literature. He traveled in many countries of the world: India, China, Japan, Egypt, he was an important diplomat, in 1862 he was secretary of the US embassy in St. Petersburg and for a short period between ‘62 and ‘63 he took over the functions of ambassador after the resignation of the previous ambassador, in 1878 the U. S. Senate ratified his appointment as U.S. ambassador to Prussia, where shortly after Taylor died. 
The life of this man was fascinating and frantic, in 1849 he married Mary Agnew, who died the following year of tuberculosis, in October 1857, he married Maria Hansen, daughter of the Danish-German astronomer Peter Hansen.
Taylor confided to Walt Whitman that he had found in his very nature
«A physical attraction and a tender and noble love of man for man.»

In Queers in History by Keith Stern, it is revealed that the love of a lifetime of Taylor was George Henry Boker, although both were married.
Mitch Gould reports that the American banker, diplomat and poet George Boker wrote to Taylor in 1856:
«Never loved anything human as I love you. It is a joy and a pride to my heart to know that this feeling is returned.» [The Routledge Encyclopedia of Walt Whitman  by J. R. LeMaster, Donald D. Kummings, p. 704.]
Taylor's novel “Joseph and His Friend” (1870), which depicts men holding hands and kissing, a little following the example of Walt Whitman, is considered the first American gay novel. [Austen, Roger (1977). Playing the Game: The Homosexual Novel in America. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill. pp. 9–10.]
This novel is said to be based on the romantic relationship between the poets Fitz-Greene Halleck and Joseph Rodman Drake. Fitz-Greene Halleck (July 8, 1790 - November 19, 1867) was five years older than his friend Joseph Rodman Drake (August 7, 1795 -  September 21, 1820).
Drake in 1816, still very young, married Sarah (daughter of Henry Eckford, a naval architect) from whom he had a daughter. He died of consumption at the age of 25.
Halleck never married, he fell in love at 19 with a young Cuban, Carlos Menie, to whom he dedicated some of his first poems.
Hallock, Halleck's biographer, thinks that Halleck was in love with his friend Drake. James Grant Wilson emphasized the way in which Halleck, who was present at the wedding as the groom's best friend (a formal role at that time, as we can deduce also by Taylor's novel), described the marriage:
«[Drake] has married, and, as his wife’s father is rich, I imagine he will write no more. He was poor, as poets, of course, always are, and offered himself a sacrifice at the shrine of Hymen to shun the ’pains and penalties’ of poverty. I officiated as groomsman, though much against my will. His wife was good natured, and loves him to distraction. He is perhaps the handsomest man in New York, — a face like an angel, a form like an Apollo; and, as I well knew that his person was the true index of his mind, I felt myself during the ceremony as committing a crime in aiding and assisting such a sacrifice.» [James Grant Wilson, The Life and Letters of Fitz-Greene Halleck. New York: Appleton and Company, 1869: 184.]
Taylor knew Halleck, even though Halleck belonged to the previous generation and, certainly, the history of the relationship between Halleck and Drake has left deep traces in Taylor’s novel, but we are not able to understand exactly in what way and up to what point.
It is undeniable that “Joseph and his friend” implies, and not so covertly, a homosexual dimension, this dimension emerges from the quotation of Shakespeare's sonnets under the title of the novel, but the very tone of Taylor's short introduction and many other passages of the novel leave absolutely no doubt. It is a homosexuality that is never explicit, never declared, essentially affective, in many respects similar to that of Walt Whitman, in which masculine friendship is mixed with affection and obviously no one  talks about sex.
Even the most profoundly homosexual character, Philip, has lived or seems to have lived stories with women and, still at the end of the novel, he seems to hope that a woman's love can get him out of the disappointment of his love for Joseph, pursued for a long time but unachievable because Joseph manifests heterosexual interests.
In developing the parallel between the history of Halleck and Drake and that of Philip and Joseph, it can be noted that the age difference between Hellack and Drake is practically the same as that between Philip and Joseph. Joseph, like Drake, marries "perhaps" without understanding what he is doing, at least this is Halleck-Philip's point of view, but "perhaps" he marries because the charm and above all the feminine seduction have an effect on him.
Julia, Joseph's wife, he drags him into disastrous business and crazy spending, reducing him almost to ruin. The situation between husband and wife becomes exasperated. Julia will die in unclear circumstances and Joseph will be accused of having murdered her but will be saved by Philip who will conduct the investigations in his favor and will obtain full acquittal from all charges.
After the trial, Joseph will leave for a year and Philip will wait for him in the belief that in the future he can build a life with his friend, but Philip has a sister and Joseph falls in love with her. Philip sees them in the meadow in the attitude of two lovers and understands that his life plan no longer exists and that from now on he will have to live "through a third person".
In the plot of this story there are also other events related to the discovery of oil in Pennsilvanya and to characters like Mr. Blessing, Julia's father, who seems at first to be a cheat, or at least an incurable naive, who will prove instead to be one of the best friends of his son-in-law.
The novel is beautiful, and in reading it I experienced moments of deep emotion, because, in the end, the gay content of the book is eternal, it doesn’t belong only to the nineteenth-century, but actually belongs to a timeless homosexual dimension.
You can read "Joseph and his friend" on the page:
If there is someone among you who can read Italian, I also point out my online Italian translation:
Reading here and there among Taylor's works I found a tale, "Twin-Love", that I liked very much and that I propose for your reading. The text presents many deliberate ambiguities that are based on the fact that the pronoun "you" is both singular and plural, and this, when you speak to one of two twins, is certainly not indifferent.
The core of the story is built on the inseparability of two twins, David and Jonathan (the names are not at all random, but refer to the relationship between the future King David and Jonathan son of King Samuel. David, after Jonathan's death, will say of Jonathan: "I loved you more than people love a woman!"
Taylor's Jonathan will marry and this will lead him to a painful but not definitive separation from his brother.
Many dialogues and many situations of the tale seem exactly like those that can arise in a relationship between two homosexual lovers, who are such beyond suspicion, and also the trauma that follows the marriage of one of the two twins makes one think of the analogous situation that is created when in a homosexual couple, one of the two partners decides to marry a woman.
The tale "Twin Love" in many respects is similar to the novel "Joseph and his friend", but in "Twin-Love" we notice the presence of Ruth the wife of Jonathan, who actually loves both brothers in the same way. Ruth however doesn’t give rise to easy plot twists in the manner of Plautus, she is treated with extreme psychological finesse.
The female character of Ruth demolishes the myth of the hetero couple and tends to legitimize a union of three people beyond the couple, at least on an affective level, while in "Joseph and his friend" the female character of Julia, who dominates much of the novel, is outlined in a way that reveals more than a few veins of misogyny, even if Julia belongs to a high social class which is probably the real target of Taylor's criticisms.
You can read "Twin-Love" on the page: 
If among you there is someone who reads Italian, I also point out my online Italian translation:
Enjoy the reading.

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