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Did Lincoln, Washington have affairs with men?

Larry Kramer, HIV/AIDS and discrimination activist, sits down with CBSN to talk about volume one of his new book "The American People"
Rewriting America's gay history 04:23

NEW YORK -- When Larry Kramer has something to say, he gets right to the point.

At 79, the HIV and gay rights advocate may move a bit more slowly and speak a bit more softly than he did at the height of the AIDS crisis in the 1990s. Nevertheless, he's just as passionate about finding a cure and fighting for equality, and is still stirring up headlines with his controversial claims -- this time, with his new book.

In Volume One of his two-part "The American People," Kramer makes bold assertions about some of America's most-revered leaders.

"We know that Abraham Lincoln was gay," Kramer told CBS News in a recent interview. "Why is that not in the history books? Because all history books are written by straight people, and they don't wanna either admit that, or they wouldn't know how to recognize what we call 'gaydar.'"

According to Kramer, George Washington and Alexander Hamilton had intimate affairs with men, John Wilkes Booth had a new motive for killing Lincoln and Jamestown was a bastion of gay sex.

"It's only natural that men would sleep with each other, when there are no women around for months on end," he explained.

"It's called a 'novel,' but that's just to keep the lawyers away from me," he said, laughing. "I believe everything in the book is true. Everything in there happened."

Kramer said the first book, nearly 800 pages long, took him 40 years to write. It runs from prehistoric America to the 1950s, and lays the groundwork for what is to come -- a retelling of American history that includes gay people in a way that only Kramer could.

"I'm so tired of reading history books that don't have anything about gay people in (them), when we know that there are so many famous people in the history of this country who were gay," Kramer said.

Kramer's version of history is more than just an outing of America's earliest leaders. He said he has traced the HIV virus to its very beginnings, in a group of prehistoric monkeys in what would become the Everglades.

"This is the 35th year of this plague," Kramer said. "Why has it been allowed to continue? Why have the government, the Congress, the president, not attended to it in the way they should? Why is there no cure? Why don't I hear anything about the word 'cure?'"

Kramer, who is HIV-positive himself, says the second book will be just as controversial.

"You'll hear all about the plague of AIDS in the second volume, and a lot about Ronald Reagan," Kramer said. "It's not a nice story, but it's one that needs to be told. If I've been kept alive for any reason, it was to tell this story."

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