Was J.Edgar Hoover gay? Does it matter?

Ain’t that the truth.

I’ve been in clearance-related jobs for 35 years. One thing I’ve learned is that they don’t care a whole lot about what you’ve done, but any hint of dishonesty or evasiveness will get you in trouble. When I hire people I tell them, “Be 100% truthful on your security application, and there probably won’t be any issues.”

Having said that, I’ve never heard of them questioning someone about their sexual orientation if they suspect them of being “closeted.” I’d be surprised if that’s a thing.

I am guessing you didn’t try to be over smart and ask questions about the process (“for a friend”) on the Dope as a certain dumbass once did (14 years ago). I am old enough to look at threads I made and cringe.

I didn’t make it clear. If someone is super closeted and they want to keep it that way, in the sense that they are in an opposite sex marriage, or it will hurt their standing in their community, that night be an issue. Same as any other blackmailable material.

I think it mattered a lot THEN. This nation was far more conservative and the religious notion that homosexuality was as sin was far more prevalent than it is today.

He may have been generally liked in the early part of his career (especially if you were white and heterosexual), but by the 1960s there was a growing dislike and distrust of him. His persecution of civil rights leaders like King, his denial of the existence of the Mafia, and his general disregard of civil liberties by collecting damaging information on individuals for his own use or on behalf of his political masters began turning the tide of public opinion against him. So much so that in 1965 Rex Stout published a Nero Wolfe book, The Doorbell Rang, that features a character being persecuted by the FBI because she spoke out vociferously against Hoover’s abuse of power. (Spoiler: Wolfe defeats the FBI.)

It is widely believed that although many presidents and other politicians wanted to force him out, he had collected so much dirt on so many people that no one dared to speak out against him.

Here you go:

Here’s a little detail on the Frontline episode based on the book.

The Secret File on J. Edgar Hoover | FRONTLINE.

In case the link preview is confusing, this not a new book - it was published in 1993.

From the article

Of course, the author, Anthony Summers, is known for writing pretty salacious books, and while he cites sources he has been critiqued for not vetting them.

(In the same book, for example, he repeats the story that Hoover was once seen wearing a dress).

So, it’s not clear how definitive this was. At the least, there’s been no further verification.

Not unless they had sex or were sexually attracted to each other and other males.

Some folks repress their sex, and instead turn to a close friend.

I know quite a few seniors who are that close, but their relationship is purely platonic. Are they all gay? Or just not that interested in sex, but still desire companionship.

Why can’t two men (or two women) has a deep close friendship, and not be considered gay?

The agents were male, there were of course plenty of female clerks and what not. How many blacks or Females in that time were in the Secret Service? US Marshall’s? The various Military police, CID and Intelligence? Law Enforcement was a Mans world, altjho many local police had a few matrons, etc.

Kathryn Childers, one of the first female Secret Service Agents, visits San Antonio | WOAI.

First Secret Service Female agent= 1971 or so. About the same time the FBI went co-ed. So this wasn’t some super-secret J. Edgar gay thing. :roll_eyes:

Yeah, Hoover kinda went too far in his later years, but remember, to start he headed a large Law Enforcement agency that wasn’t corrupt. Pretty much, nearly all state and local police were corrupt to one extent or the other during the 30’s 40’s and 50’s. Hoover was part of the movement to make LEOs true professionals.

By the later 60’s his obsession with pinkos, commies and yippies had gotten out of control.

Yes, this.
I don’t think they denied the existence of gay men in the 1960’s or 1970’s. Everyone knew men that were “light in the loafers” and “confirmed bachelors”. I do think there was a denial that these men had sexual relationships with each other.

As a teenager in the early ‘70’s I probably read my parent’s copy of Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex but Were Afraid To Ask cover to cover several times. This book, then revolutionary in its subject matter, espoused the viewpoint that homosexual men were incapable of real relationships and that their sexual activities consisted solely of furtive anonymous encounters in public restrooms and bathhouses, which the book luridly described. It really was insanely homophobic by today’s standards, here’s a short article describing it.

This book was read by millions of people, maybe hundreds of millions, back in the ‘70’s and I would surmise it was the sole source of information about homosexuality for most of them.

Gay sex was also illegal and socially shameful in most circles. That’s where the not entirely rational denial came in, no one wanted to think about “Uncle Robert who doesn’t like women” and his longtime bachelor friend doing that stuff, so they gave him “the benefit of the doubt” and chose to believe he didn’t. And that denial was helped by propaganda like I described above, because it was hard to believe that Uncle Robert worked the glory holes at the gas station, and people didn’t consider that maybe that gay men made love with men they loved in the privacy of their own beds, just like straight couples did.

We really have come a long way in the last 50 years, and I hope we don’t slide backwards.

Clyde Tolson was promoted to assistant director in 1930, when he was 30. Hoover was 35 at the time. Their relationship was hardly that of two “seniors”; they were together throughout their adulthood.

And when I say “together”, they were a known pair. They rode in cars together, ate together, and vacationed together. They even frequently matched their clothing.

Hoover also left his estate to Tolson when he died, after which Tolson “moved into” Hoover’s home (officially, they hadn’t been living together, although they rode to work together each morning). He even received his flag at the funeral.

That suggests a significant level of intimacy. In my experience, people who are asexual would not become so intertwined with another person. Perhaps I am entirely overreaching, and these really were just two guys who were both totally invested in their work, and found common ground on that basis, but I really doubt it.

I also find it interesting that there aren’t so many of these platonic bachelor arrangements today, when it’s far more acceptable to be in a same sex romance. (Another one that comes to mind involved Cary Grant and Randolph Scott)

So? You mean two men or two women can’t be close friends without being gay?

Of course they can.

But I do believe that there is a distinction to be drawn between”close friends” and “constant companions, to the exclusion of other people”.

It’d be incredibly unusual for a man and a woman to have the public relationship that Hoover and Tolson had and not to have been in a committed loving relationship. When you consider the possibility that Hoover and Tolson were gay, then it makes sense (in my opinion) to presume the same type of partnership.

Now, there are sexless marriages, and Hoover/Tolson might have been the same. But I’m skeptical that such intermingled lives arose out of mere friendship, as opposed to a romantic affection.

Back in the closeted days, there were always “spinster women” who never married and lived together for decades. Do you mean none of them were gay?

Sure, some were… and some weren’t . Some women who were married and had kids were also gay, along with some men.

There is a simple way to tell if a person is gay- they say so.

Nowadays maybe. But back when there were strong social censure and even criminal charges directed against gay people, there were plenty of gay people who had good reasons not to say they were gay.

You might also want to ask why there are a large number of openly gay people around today when there far fewer openly gay cpeople sixty years ago.

One possibility is that there are more gay people today than there was sixty years ago. The other possibility is there were equal numbers of gay people sixty years ago but a lot of them were not openly gay.

True. Absolutely there were gay people in the past who never publicly came out. But that doesn’t mean that if they didn’t come out they were gay. You can’t point to any person in the past (who did not come out) and say they were gay, unless perhaps their gay lover admitted it.

Sure, and so?

I don’t think anyone is saying that it’s an absolute fact that Hoover and Tolsen were a gay couple. What people are saying is the likeliest explanation for the way Hoover and Tolsen acted is that they were a gay couple.

The likeliest explanation is that it is none of our damn business either way.

It may not be any of our business. But that’s not an explanation.

OMG, are you like twenty? In the past, people didn’t say. They couldn’t say! Because they could be killed!

If Hoover admitted he was gay while he was director, at a minimum he would have lost his job. He might have been arrested. And today his name would be even more reviled than it is now, except by the Right instead.

It is not our damned business, except…

In many parts of the US, homosexual acts were illegal during Hoover’s lifetime. This put him as a PRIME target for extortion. “If you don’t stop investigating the illegal activities of the Teamster’s Union, we’re going to release these pictures to the press and to the Georgia DA.”

It shouldn’t be any of our business, but in that legal atmosphere, it was.