Did any radio or TV crime dramas ever go after gay people for being gay?

I’ve been listening to the web based old time Dragnet radio shows for a few weeks as referenced hereand it’s kind of a fascinating journey in the way back machine for the late 40’s and early 50’s. In listening the radio Dragnet does not really seem to be picking on gay people in any of the shows I’ve heard. There is one Dragnet TV reference here but that’s about it.

Were there any TV or radio crime dramas where the police went specifically after gay people as a primary plot point for trying to pick up other gay people or similar behavior?


in the 50s on radio they didn’t acknowledge that “those people” existed

Not specifically, but in an episode of the original Hawaii Five-0 (“V Is for Vachon”) they nailed a politician for perjury by outing him as a homosexual. He had been blackmailed into testifying against McGarrett in a murder trial.

In other words, they went after him because they suspected he had lied in court, and not because he was gay. That came out in the course of the investigation.

Not exactly what you’re looking for, but in the series finale of Adam-12, Reed & Malloy raid a “chicken farm”, i.e. a house where young boys were being exploited to film child pornography. Bizarrely, after the bust, the vice cop says the kids would be taken to juvenile hall. :confused:

On a parallel track, the Dick Tracy comic strip has recently been featuring cameos by George Takei:
http://www.gocomics.com/dicktracy/2015/11/15 :cool:

I’m wondering just how fast Chet Gould is spinning in his grave –

Not a drama, but there was a Barney Miller episode where they arrested a man for cross-dressing, explaining that ~dressing to hide your identity~ can’t remember exact phrasing, was an offense.
Lots of yuks.

Very fond of Barney Miller but it makes me really feel how far away the 70s have become.
Feel it more than previous decades before I was born. I was around for the 70s and sometimes I’m watching a normal sitcom plot and then I go ‘what! what world is this, it’s not this one.’

Were they runaways? Were they being held there against their will? Did they live in the area and the cops had to call their parents to come and get them? They would be required to give evidence against the bad guys, wouldn’t they? I could see them being taken to juvenile hall until they were all sorted out. If they were juveniles, they couldn’t just be told, ‘OK, it’s all over, go home now.’

There were no gay people in the 1950s – at least, as far as popular culture was concerned. Even plays that dealt with it – like Tea and Sympathy and The Children’s Hour – were made heterosexual for their movies.

It became a topic for movies in the 60s. The Detective (starring Frank Sinatra) was one of the first to have gay people involved in a crime, though I don’t think anyone was arrested for being gay.


That’s not how I remember The Children’s Hour in movie form.

There was a fairly obvious gay reference regarding Joel Cairo in The Maltese Falcon, so it was not unheard of back then. When Cairo first sees Spade, he has a lilac scented business card, which I took to indicate gayness.

Entirely excised when From Here to Eternity went from book to film.

And Paul Lynde was a very popular and obviously out gay man on the vintage Hollywood Squares.

That’s what I was thinking. They would also need medical treatment, and therapy too. :frowning:

While “Alice” wasn’t a crime drama by any stretch of the imagination, I remember one episode where her son went camping with some other boys and men, and when he came home, she asked him if Mr. X “did anything to him” because he was gay. :confused: Folks, those aren’t the same thing, but a lot of people didn’t seem to realize it at the time.

I don’t think they had “Children’s Protective Services” back then.

No he wasn’t “out”. Nobody was out. He wasn’t out, he was a flaming mincing simpering queen, which is not the same as being out.

Yes, media of the time had effeminate characters, it had simpering dandies, it had fancy lads, it had sissies and pansies, it had confirmed bachelors, it had suggestive dialog, it had open secrets, it had characters who liked both snails and oysters. What it didn’t have was out gay men.

Yes, some people knew that there were men who had sex with men. And some people would guess that queens like Paul Lynde and Liberace were of that sort. But it wasn’t something you’d talk about. Open secrets ruled the day. Everyone in Washington knew about JFK’s affairs, but it was never, ever, mentioned in the newspapers. It was something whispered and giggled about at cocktail parties, but never in print or where the children might hear.

So to write a crime drama about homosexuals wasn’t done, because it would require talking about homosexuality in public, which wasn’t done. You could have a mincing lisping swish as a character in a drama, and make fun of him, but you could never come out and say that the character liked to have sex with men.

This. I remember watching Paul on Bewitched and Hollywood Squares when I was a kid, and, while I knew about homosexuals by the time I was ten, it never occurred to me that he was one. Weird, eccentric, over-the-top funny, yes. But homosexual, no.

The same was true for Liberace, who was an occasional guest on Steve Allen’s show. I also remember the “rumors” about Rock Hudson and Jim Nabors, but I never believed them either. Such was the culture of the time.

Host Peter Marshall, asking Paul a question for the game: “You are the most popular fruit in the entire world. What are you?”

Paul Lynde: “Humble.”


I remember it being a big kerfluffle (so to speak) about the movie Cruising starring Al Pacino as a cop going undercover in the gay biker community to investigate a murder. In 1979.

I remember a “Kojak” where a semi-truck full of partying gays driving throughout the city were rousted for some reason. I don’t remember why at this point, but I do remember Kojak standing by sucking on his sucker as the colorfully clad gays were unloaded from the truck trailer.

There was a film adaptation of the play The Children’s Hour made years before the well-known Audrey Hepburn/Shirley MacLaine movie. It was called These Three and the plot was changed to have the rumor be that one of the (female) teachers is having an affair with the other teacher’s (male) fiance. The 1961 adaptation titled The Children’s Hour did preserve the lesbian element that was present in the play, but that was (barely) after the 1950s.

In another Barney Miller ep., Miller was tasked with rooting out and firing a gay cop in the precinct. I forget how it was resolved, but I’m pretty sure he didn’t fire the guy.