social sciences
special features
about glbtq

Advertising Opportunities
Press Kit
Research Guide
Terms of Service
Privacy Policy
site guide
search tips
research guide
editors & contributors
contact us
send feedback
write the editor
Subscribe to our free e-mail newsletter to receive a spotlight on glbtq culture every month.
e-mail address:
Popular Topics in Literature
García Lorca, Federico García Lorca, Federico
The works of García Lorca, internationally recognized as Spain's most prominent lyric poet and dramatist of the twentieth century, are filled with thinly veiled homosexual motifs and themes.
Musical Theater
There has always been homosexual involvement in American musical theatre and a homosexual sensibility even in straight musicals, and recently the Broadway musical has welcomed openly homosexual themes and situations.
Michelangelo Buonarroti Michelangelo Buonarroti
Best known for his genius in art and architecture, Michelangelo was also an accomplished author of homoerotic poetry.
African-American Literature: Gay Male African-American Literature: Gay Male
The African-American gay male literary tradition consists of a substantial body of texts and includes some of the most gifted writers of the twentieth century.
Camp Camp
Combining elements of incongruity, theatricality, and exaggeration, camp is a form of humor that helps homosexuals cope with a hostile environment.
Hughes, Langston Hughes, Langston
Langston Hughes, whose literary legacy is enormous and varied, was closeted, but homosexuality was an important influence on his literary imagination, and many of his poems may be read as gay texts.
Baldwin, James Arthur Baldwin, James Arthur
James Baldwin, a pioneering figure in twentieth-century literature, wrote sustained and articulate challenges to American racism and mandatory heterosexuality.
Wilde, Oscar Wilde, Oscar
Oscar Wilde is important both as an accomplished writer and as a symbolic figure who exemplified a way of being homosexual at a pivotal moment in the emergence of gay consciousness.
Topics In the News
The Enigma of J. Edgar Hoover
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 11/27/11
Last updated on: 11/28/11
Bookmark and Share

J. Edgar Hoover.

The release of Clint Eastwood's film J. Edgar, featuring a screenplay by Dustin Lance Black, has brought renewed attention to the enigma of J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI director who enforced McCarthy-era regulations against homosexuals in federal employment yet to all appearances lived a homosexual life himself.

Although never elected to any office, Hoover wielded tremendous political power in the United States government for almost five decades, and through eight presidencies, as head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Under his leadership, the Bureau developed from a weak and ineffectual collection of political appointees into one of the most efficient police agencies in the world.

It also developed into an undercover secret police that frequently used illegal means to gather damaging information, not only on criminals and political dissidents, but also on political leaders as well. Although Hoover was always in the front lines of government attempts to harass homosexual liberation movements, rumors that he himself was gay followed him throughout his career.

The New York Times of November 27, 2011 features an op-ed by Dudley Clendenin entitled "J. Edgar Hoover Outed My Godfather." The article tells the story of Arthur Vandenberg, Jr., who in 1952 had been appointed as secretary and chief of staff of President-elect Eisenhower.

When Hoover, who kept voluminous files on "Sex Deviates," exposed Vandenberg's homosexuality to Eisenhower, the appointment was withdrawn. Soon after assuming office Eisenhower issued the infamous Executive Order 10450 that mandated the firing of any federal employee guilty of "sexual perversion," by which was meant homosexuality.

In 1956, after he had left Washington, D. C. but had gained status as an expert on foreign affairs, Vandenberg may have again been victimized by Hoover. His career was destroyed when Confidential, a tabloid that often received information from the FBI, published a lurid exposé about him. Vandenberg committed suicide in 1968.

Meanwhile, Hoover continued to use his office to help enforce the ban on homosexuals in government employment even as he lived a life that seemed to many to be openly homosexual.

As Clendenin notes, Hoover and his associate director Clyde Tolson maintained separate residences, but "had lunch together, dinner together, rode to work in Hoover's car together, attended private dinners and receptions in Washington together, went to the horse races together, and vacationed in the same hotel suites together. By Hoover's standards, if they hadn't been the director and associate director of the F.B.I., they would have been in its Sex Deviate files together, because there sure was a lot of talk about them. Hoover sent agents to squash the talk and threaten the talkers wherever it occurred."

While Eastwood's film imagines Tolson and Hoover as lovers, Clendenin, however, speculates that they were not: "They weren't built for it. They were too prim, too rigid, too Victorian. The only way Hoover could be comfortable in such a public relationship, I think, was because he knew it wasn't sexual in private, whether he desired it to be or not. Hoover was too aware of the power of a secret. How could he permit anyone--even Clyde--to have something on him?"

Clendenin's story of his godfather Arthur Vandenberg, Jr. may be found here: J. Edgar Hoover Outed My Godfather.

The trailer of Clint Eastwood's J. Edgar, which opened in limited release in November 2011:

Related Encyclopedia Entries
browse:   arts   literature   social-sciences   discussion boards
learn more about glbtq       contact us       advertise on glbtq.com
Bookmark and Share

glbtq™ and its logo are trademarks of glbtq, Inc.
This site and its contents Copyright © 2002-2015, glbtq, Inc.

Your use of this site indicates that you accept its Terms of Service.