I graduated from James Buchanan High School in rural Mercersburg Pennsylvania, known to the locals as JB. The namesake of my school is from America’s 15th President, James Buchanan, known until recently as America’s “worst” president, as well as the only one from Pennsylvania. The “Do Nothing President,” as he was known, was America’s only bachelor president, and rumors about his sexuality continue to this day.
My play “The President’s Pants” explores my personal connections with Buchanan and his legacy. As the last president before the Civil War, he’s been haunting me most of my life with questions about the bloody costs of “peace” and “cute history vs. truth in history.”
This article, “Our First Real Gay President” was published in 2012, in the same year, ironically in which my play is set. Here is a short description of “The President’s Pants.”
While Megan battles her own secrets in order to keep peace in her conservative Mennonite family, she is haunted by the ghost of Buchanan who fights to justify everything he traded away in the name of “peace” on the eve of America’s Civil War. The two become fast “frenemies” as Megan takes a job as a “Buchanan Reenactor” performing at local nursing homes, girl scout meetings, and battlefield reenactments. “The President’s Pants” questions the cost of peace and when it’s time to go to war – with our country, our families and even ourselves — and who should wear the pants in the narratives of history and our own stories.