“Because of him,” Lem Billings once said of President Kennedy, “I was never lonely.”
John Kennedy and Lem Billings met in 1933 at Choate Rosemary Hall, the teenagers worked together on their class’s yearbook, and Billings became sexually attracted to the handsome young Kennedy.
Billings made his desire known while the two were still at school by writing Kennedy a love note on a piece of toilet paper. A startled Kennedy responded to the note by saying, “Please don’t write to me on toilet paper anymore. I'm not that kind of boy.”
Although Joe Kennedy, the family patriarch, was reportedly suspicious of Billings’ close relationship with his son, the Kennedy family welcomed Billings into their exclusive family circle.
Lem Billings would later confide in friends that his relationship with Kennedy was sexual, to a point, and “included oral sex, with Jack always on the receiving end.”
Their arrangement, Quirk says, “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,” and, “Jack was in love with Lem being in love with him and considered him the ideal follower adorer.”
According to Billings’ biographer David Pitts, “Once JFK decided that Billings was his best friend – like it or leave, everybody in the family sort of fell in line with that. The Kennedys were a liberal family and one that tolerated a lot of heterosexual promiscuity as well.”
In her memoir, Times To Remember, published eleven years after JFK’s assassination in Dallas in 1963, matriarch Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy wrote that Billings had “remained Jack’s lifelong close friend, confidant, sharer in old memories and new experiences…He has really been part of ‘our family’ since that first time he showed up at our house as one of ‘Jack’s surprises.’”
JFK even gave him his own room at The White House. Jackie was reportedly upset that her husband spent so much time with Billings and that he often spent the night at the White House.
After Kennedy’s assassination, Billings was devastated. Biographer Sally Bedell Smith referred to Billings as “probably the saddest of the Kennedy widows.”