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The Fred Gray Association

Details about the Fred Gray Association are sketchy at best, and the extant historical documents provide only the most basic details. Ed Folsom and Ken Price characterize the group as "a loose confederation of young men who seemed anxious to explore new possibilities of male-male affection" (Re-Scripting 62). Members of the group included Walt Whitman, Nat Bloom, and John Frederick Schiller Gray (after whom the group seems to have been named), Nat Gray, Charles Kingsley, Charles Chauncey, Hugo Fritsch, a man known only as "Perkins" and someone referred to as "Raymond" that may be Henry J. Raymond.

Whitman's letters speak of the group's adventures while "wandering the east side of the city [...] in the lager beer saloons" (Allen 316). In Whitman's memories of Pfaff's, his evenings with the Fred Gray Association "conjure[d] up animation, hilarity and 'sparkle'" (Stansell 118).

According to Stephanie Blalock, Fred Gray's military service and later marriage potentially complicate conventional wisdom about the workings of the Bohemian crowd at Pfaff's, which included other students from the New York medical community as well. Blalock argues that these links between the Broadway medical community and the frequenters at Pfaff's raise critical questions about Whitman's interests in nursing during the Civil War and about "his efforts to heal the national body with his postwar editions of Leaves of Grass" (60).