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The Gay History Series

Lesson #6: G-Man in A G-String—J. Edgar Hoover – (1895-1972)

John Edgar Hoover (January 1, 1895 – May 2, 1972) was the first Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of the United States. Appointed director of the Bureau of Investigation—predecessor to the FBI—in 1924, he was instrumental in founding the FBI in 1935, where he remained director until his death in 1972 aged 77. Hoover is credited with building the FBI into a large and efficient crime-fighting agency, and with instituting a number of modernizations to police technology, such as a centralized fingerprint file and forensic laboratories.

He was also as queer as a three-dollar bill. He carried on a decades-long affair with his FBI second-in-command, Clyde Tolson, as his catamite, and he sometimes dressed in women’s clothes and went out night-clubbing and attended chic cocktail parties of the rich and powerful in drag, using the name “Mary.”

Hoover’s political and law enforcement history was checkered, and now is not the time or place to go into every detail of his long and complex life and career. The liberal left has always despised Hoover because of his apparently genuine distaste for Communism, a distaste which can be traced back to a 1919 Bolshevik bombing campaign in which the Reds, among other targets, blew up Wall Street with a milk wagon bomb and the home of U.S. Attorney General Mitchell Palmer in Washington, D.C. A number of innocent people were killed in this now-forgotten murder spree, which has been pretty much erased from the liberal history books, although there are still occasional weepy references to the subsequent “Palmer Raids” during which a number of illegal aliens suspected, usually with reason, of being Communists or anarchists were deported to the Soviet Union.

Hoover clung to power for almost 50 years as America’s secret police chief, maintaining his position largely through the voluminous files he accumulated on the peccadilloes of prominent politicians, financial, sexual, and criminal. Unlike later media and law enforcement, Hoover was quite willing to blackmail and pressure liberal Democrats as well as Republicans, and for this the hatred of the liberal left for him still burns bright forty years after his death, as witness the recent smear movie bio starring Leonardo Di Caprio in the title role.

J. Edgar Hoover was born on New Year's Day 1895 in Washington, D.C., to Anna Marie Hoover, who was of German Swiss descent, and Dick Naylor Hoover, Sr. (1856–1921), of English and German ancestry. Hoover was the ultimate Washington insider; he was born there and never left.

He grew up near the Eastern Market in Washington's Capitol Hill neighborhood. He obtained a law degree from George Washington University Law School in 1916. During World War I, immediately after getting his LLM, Hoover was hired by the Justice Department, thus avoiding the draft and any chance he himself might end up in one of those muddy ole trenches getting shot at by them German fellers. Risk avoidance of all kinds was something Hoover was always adept at; during his entire lifelong career as America’s top government goon Hoover never once carried a gun, made an arrest, or came under fire. He was strictly a desk jockey.

Hoover was soon promoted to head of the Enemy Aliens Registration Section. In August 1919, in the middle of the Communist bombing campaign mentioned above, he became head of the new General Intelligence Division of the Bureau of Investigation within the Justice Department. From there, in 1921, he rose in the Bureau of Investigation to deputy head, and in 1924, the Attorney General made him the acting director. On May 10, 1924, President Calvin Coolidge appointed Hoover as the sixth director of the Bureau of Investigation, following President Warren Harding's death and in response to allegations that the prior director, William J. Burns, was involved in the Teapot Dome scandal. Coolidge pointedly did not ask the Bureau to investigate his predecessor Harding’s mysterious death. (See the Aryan History Series.) When Hoover took over the Bureau of Investigation, it had approximately 650 employees, including 441 Special Agents.

Hoover was “noted as sometimes being capricious in his leadership”, according to one online article. In fact, he was a real asshole boss to work for. He was incredibly petty, almost a caricature of the anal supervisor who counts and rations paper clips around the office. He fired FBI agents for no reason, sometimes dismissing men for “looking stupid like truck drivers" or being "pinheads." (This is obviously no longer a disqualification for Bureau employment today. He regularly transferred agents who displeased him to Podunk, Alabama or Devil’s Outhouse, Montana , thus effectively ending their careers. On one occasion he heard about a bachelor party at an FBI field office for an agent about to be married, wherein a black stripper had been employed. Hoover flew to the city in question, hauled in all the agents, and ranted and raved for an hour about the incident, concluding with the screamed imprecation, “There will be no naked negresses in my Bureau!”

The famous Melvin Purvis was a prime example: Purvis was one of the most effective agents the FBI had in capturing and breaking up 1930s bank robbery gangs, but Hoover was jealous of all the publicity Purvis gathered and maneuvered him out of the FBI. Purvis later committed suicide with the same gun with which he allegedly shot Dillinger. (As an aside, there is actually some reasonable doubt it was in fact Dillinger who died in the 1934 ambush, but that is a tale for another time.)

Even though he was not there, Hoover was credited with several highly publicized captures or shootings of outlaws and bank robbers. These included that of Dillinger, Alvin Karpis, and Machine Gun Kelly, which led to the Bureau's powers being broadened and it was given its new name in 1935: the Federal Bureau of Investigation. In 1939, the FBI became pre-eminent in the field of domestic intelligence. Hoover made changes, such as expanding and combining fingerprint files in the Identification Division to compile the largest collection of fingerprints to date. Hoover also helped to expand the FBI's recruitment and create the FBI Laboratory, a division established in 1932 to examine evidence found by the FBI. This was the beginning of the present liberal democratic Surveillance State.

In 1946, U.S. Attorney General Tom C. Clark authorized Hoover to compile a list of potentially disloyal Americans who might be detained during a wartime national emergency. Once again, we see where our present dictatorship came into being, at the hands of New Deal Democrats, although Republican hands are by no means clean. In 1950, at the outbreak of the Korean War, Hoover submitted to President Truman a plan to suspend the writ of habeas corpus and detain 12,000 Americans suspected of disloyalty. Truman did not act on the plan. Today, when Israel attacks Iran or some other crisis appears, it is doubtful whether Barry Soetoro will show the same restraint.

Presidents Harry S. Truman and John F. Kennedy each considered dismissing Hoover as FBI Director, but ultimately concluded that the political cost of doing so would be too great. In other words, Hoover had something on them. In Truman’s case it was financial skullduggery. judicial malfeasance and Mob connections from when Truman was a judge in Kansas City under the infamous Thomas Pendergast machine, and in Kennedy’s case it was an incredible career of sexual debauchery (including one affair with a suspected female German spy during the war) as well as Mob connections through the Daley machine in Chicago who won him the 1960 election. Hoover was able to beat off an attempt by Lyndon Johnson to get rid of him by threatening to reveal that Johnson’s friend and aide, Jack Valenti, a special assistant and confidant to President who was married Johnson's personal secretary, was having a sodomitic relationship with a commercial photographer friend.

Hoover never married, and beginning in the 1940s, rumors circulated that he was gay. Hoover’s uxorious public relationship with his deputy director Clyde Tolson was certainly both indiscreet and suggestive. The men not only worked closely together during the day, but they also took meals, went to night clubs and vacationed together. Tolson lived just down the street from Hoover’s home and frequently spent the night with his boss, in his home and in the same hotel room when traveling. When Hoover died in 1972, Tolson inherited Hoover's estate and moved into his home, having accepted the American flag that draped Hoover's casket. Tolson himself is buried a few yards away from Hoover in the Congressional Cemetery. More than one Washington insider of the time, writing his or her memoirs, mentions something to the effect that it was one of those pre-“Enlightenment” cases where “everybody knew and nobody said anything, since we did not admit such things existed in those days. Unlike today’s Enlightened era, etc.”

Hoover hunted down and threatened anyone who made insinuations about his sexuality. He also spread rumors that Adlai Stevenson was gay to damage the liberal governor's 1952 presidential campaign. His extensive secret files contained surveillance material on Eleanor Roosevelt's lesbian lovers and encounters. This included one of the Bureau’s earliest electronic surveillance tapes, secretly recorded in a New York hotel room around 1940, wherein the First Lady was captured for all time in a lesbo encounter with 300-pound negro actress Hattie McDaniel, who played Mammy in Gone With The Wind. Hoover kept this tape in his private safe in his home and would sometimes bring it out and play it during private parties or for the amusement of various Republican politicians.

In his 1993 biography Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover, journalist Anthony Summers quoted society divorcee Susan Rosenstiel as claiming to have seen Hoover engaging in cross-dressing in the 1950s. She stated that on two occasions she witnessed Hoover wearing a fluffy pink dress with flounces and lace, stockings, high heels and a black curly wig, at homosexual orgies, where he was introduced as “Mary.” Hoover must have been worried about this Jewess’s mouth, because he managed to get her indicted for perjury in an unrelated civil matter in 1971, thus carefully ruining her credibility.

Summers also said that the Mafia had blackmail material on Hoover, which made Hoover reluctant to aggressively pursue organized crime. It is known that on one wiretap tape, Jewish Mob kingpin Meyer Lansky is recorded as boasting to an associate, “Don’t worry about Hoover. We got him by the balls. He’s a fag, and we got pictures of him [performing a certain deviate sexual act.]” It is certain that for years Hoover dragged his feet on Mob investigations and was only forced publicly to admit that there even was such a thing as the Mafia after the 1957 Appalachian crime convention was surprised and raided.

Hoover certainly had some gay contacts besides Tolson, including Jewish attorney Roy Cohn, who worked closely with both Hoover and Senator Joe McCarthy during the 1950s investigations of Communists. Cohn later denied that he was a homosexual on the strange grounds that while he had sex with men, he pitched rather than caught, so to speak.

Some people affiliated with Hoover later supported the claims that he had homosexual tendencies, after the secret policeman was dead and it was safe to do so. Ethel Merman, a friend of Hoover since 1938, stated in 1978 "Some of my best friends are homosexual. Everybody knew about J. Edgar Hoover, but he was the best chief the FBI ever had." Hoover often frequented New York City's Stork Club and one observer – soap model Luisa Stuart, who was 18 or 19 at the time – told Summers she saw Hoover holding hands with Tolson as they all rode in a limo uptown to the Cotton Club in 1936. Novelist William Styron told Summers that he once spotted Hoover and Tolson in a California beach house and the director was painting his friend's toenails. Harry Hay, founder of the Mattachine Society, one of the first gay rights organizations, confirmed that Hoover and Tolson sat in boxes owned by and used exclusively by gay men at their racing haunt Del Mar in California. One medical expert told Summers that Hoover was of "strongly predominant homosexual orientation", while another medical expert categorized him as a "bisexual with failed heterosexuality."

Interestingly, Hoover was also a devoted Freemason, being raised a Master Mason on 9 November 1920, in Federal Lodge No. 1, Washington, DC, just two months before his 26th birthday. During his 52 years with the Masons, he received many medals, awards and decorations. Eventually in 1955, he was coroneted a Thirty-Third Degree Inspector General Honorary in the Southern Scottish Rite Jurisdiction. He was also awarded the Scottish Rite's highest recognition, the Grand Cross of Honor, in 1965. Today a J. Edgar Hoover room exists within the House of the Temple. The room contains many of Hoover's personal papers and records.

Hoover died at his Washington, D.C., home on May 2, 1972, from a heart attack His body lay in state in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol, where Chief Justice Warren Burger eulogized him. President Nixon delivered another eulogy at the funeral service in the National Presbyterian Church. In public, Nixon said "One of the giants ... a national symbol of courage, patriotism and granite-like honesty and integrity." In private, Nixon's reaction was "That old cocksucker!"

Operational command of the Bureau passed to Associate Director Clyde Tolson. On May 3, Nixon appointed L. Patrick Gray, a Justice Department official with no FBI experience, as Acting Director, with W. Mark Felt remaining as Associate Director. Gray’s first act was to change the locks on Clyde Tolson’s office, and have several agents gently but firmly escort him from the building. Tolson announced his retirement from the FBI a short time later, but he was never allowed back into the building unescorted.

One of the great mysteries of Hoover’s end is what happened to his massive filing cabinets full of fifty years’ worth of dirt on America’s Best and Brightest, especially choice items like the Eleanor Roosevelt tape. When he took over Gray made an instant search for these files and demanded that Hoover’s long-time secretary, Helen Gandy, hand all the material over. Gandy replied that acting on Hoover’s final orders she had burned the material in a big huge bonfire in the backyard of Hoover’s home the night he died. Some believe this story, some don’t, and the alleged continued existence in some secret hiding place of the Hoover Files, or selected copies, has been one of Washington, D.C. most enduring rumors and legends for the past forty years.