FBI and Homosexuality: 1990-1999

1990, June
Frank Buttino, a 20-year veteran FBI agent was fired for being homosexual and therefore an alleged security risk. He soon after filed suit in 1990, challenging his dismissal as a security risk after he admitted being homosexual. See December 1993.

Poveda and others (1998), page 137. Buttino autobiography. Research request: full citations.

1990, May 7
Theoharis, Athan. On FBI's smearing of A. Stevenson as homosexual. Nation, 7 May 1990.

Potter, "Queer", page ?. Research request. Full citation and content?

Gentry, Curt. J. Edgar Hoover: The Man and the Secrets. Illustrated. 846 pp. New York: W. W. Norton, 1991.

Theoharis, Athan, ed. Secret Files of J. Edgar Hoover. 370 pp. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 1991.

1991, January 13
"FBI's 'Sex Deviate' Files Come to Light," San Francisco. Examiner, 13 January 1991, page 1.

Research request: More info on content of article?

1991, September 15
Oshinsky, David M. "The Senior G-Man". New York Times, September 15, 1991

1991, September 16
“Our Own KGB: Spreading Rumors about J. Edgar Hoover Would Invite a Visit,” New York Native, 16 September 1991.

Potter, "Queer" (2006): "Hoover sent agents out to threaten those who gossiped about him and “Junior,” as the New York Native, a gay community newspaper, reported in 1991. This sort of intimidation would suggest that the gossip triggered a higher level of concern than mere lies usually command. Hoover used federal agents to “closely monitor these rumors, alert him to them, and then act forcefully to defend his reputation,” as Theoharis admits. He “made [the rumors of his homosexuality] a high FBI priority,” unlike, say, monitoring the activities of the Bonnanno crime family.

Potter, "Queer" (2006), page 373 citing “Our Own KGB: Spreading Rumors about J. Edgar Hoover Would Invite a Visit,” New York Native, 16 September 1991; Theoharis, J. Edgar Hoover, Sex and Crime, 33, 39; and “FBI Wiretapping: A Case Study in Bureau Autonomy,” Political Science Quarterly 107, no. 1 (1992): 117–18.

1991, November
Marc North. Act of Treason: The Role of J. Edgar Hoover in the Assassination of President Kennedy. Carroll & Graf 1st edition (November 1991). ISBN-10: 088184747X. ISBN-13: 978-0881847475. Says: "There is a distinct possibility that he was also probably homosexual." List of reasons.

Page numbers not available on Google Books version. Includes source notes. Research request: contents and page numbers?

Theoharis, Athan. “FBI Wiretapping: A Case Study in Bureau Autonomy,” Political Science Quarterly 107, no. 1 (1992): 117–18. etc.

1993, February 11
Murray Weiss. "J. Edgar's Slip Was Showing". New York Post, February 11, 1993, cited in Carter, Stonewall(June 2004).

Carter describes this as a "newspaper story about the 1960s national homosexual blackmail ring" that quotes law enforcement sources who had worked on the case as saying that their investigation into the nationwide blackmail ring had turned up a photograph of Hoover 'posing amiably' with the racket's ringleader [who, Carter suggests, was Edward Murphy] and had uncovered information that Clyde Tolson . . . had himself 'fallen victim to the extortion ring.' After federal agents joined the investigation, both the photograph of Hoover and the documents about Tolson disappeared."

Cited in Carter, Stonewall, page 96, and note 13 page 286.

1993, March 2
Summers, Anthony. Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover.

Claims J. Edgar Hoover was being blackmailed by organized crime, which had a photo of him committing a homosexual act.

Poveda and others (1998), 122. Research request: full citation?

According to Summers' highly contested version: In 1958 the bisexual millionaire distiller and philanthropist Lewis Solon Rosenstiel asked Susan, his fourth wife, if—having been previously married to another bisexual man for nine years—she had ever seen “a homosexual orgy.” Although she had once surprised her sixty-eight-year-old husband in bed with his attorney, Roy Cohn, Susan told Summers that she had never before been invited to view sex between men. With her consent the couple went one day not long after this odd question to Manhattan’s Plaza Hotel. Cohn, a former aide to Senator Joseph McCarthy and a Republican power broker, met them at the door. As she and her husband entered the suite, Susan said, she recognized a third man: J. Edgar Hoover, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), whom she had met previously at her New York City Upper East Side townhouse. Hoover, Lewis had explained, gave him access to influential politicians; he returned these favors, in part, by paying the director’s gambling debts.Susan described what happened at this meeting. Cohn warned her that she should pretend not to recognize Hoover, who was in “full drag.”

As she recalled, the legendary crime fighter, anti-Communist, and crusader against sexual perversion was wearing a fluffy black dress, very fluffy, with flounces, and lace stockings, and high heels, and a black curly wig. He had make-up on, and false eyelashes. It was a very short skirt, and he was sitting there in the living room of the suite with his legs crossed. Roy introduced him to me as “Mary” and he replied, “Good evening,” brusque, like the first time I’d met him. It was obvious he wasn’t a woman, you could see where he’d shaved. It was Hoover. You’ve never seen anything like it. I couldn’t believe it, that I should see the head of the FBI dressed as a woman.

Two blonde boys then entered the “tremendous bedroom, with a bed like in Caesar’s time,” and the orgy began. Hoover removed his dress and underpants, revealing a garter belt, and the boys “work[ed] on him with their hands,” one wearing rubber gloves. Her husband, Lewis, then “got into the act” while Hoover and Cohn watched; finally, Cohn had “full sex” with each boy. Operating as a figure of power, not desire, Hoover demanded sexual pleasure but did not give it to others. Susan recalled that he “only had [the boys], you know, playing with him.” A year later the Rosenstiels returned to the Plaza. This time the boys were “dressed in leather,” and Hoover wore a red dress and a black feather boa. He had one boy read from the Bible while the other fondled him, again wearing gloves. Hoover soon “grabbed the Bible, threw it down, and told the second boy to join in the sex.”

Despite her husband’s urging Susan Rosenstiel did not join either scene; her claim to truth rests on her status as a detached, female heterosexual among gay men. But this claim, after the fantastic quality of the story, is where the problems begin. For one thing, historians and respectable journalists usually rely on corroborated evidence . . .

Potter, "Queer Hover", 355-356: This account is taken from Anthony Summers, Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1993), 253–55.

1993, April 11
Rich, Frank, “Men in Uniform,” New York Times, 11 April 1993

1993, June
Frank Buttino and Lou Buttino. A Special Agent: Gay and Inside the FBI. William Morrow & Co; 1st edition (June 1993). ISBN-10: 0688119581. ISBN-13: 978-0688119584. See also: 1993, December.

1993, December
When the trial of fired FBI agent Frank Bottino began in a U.S. district court in San Francisco in December 1993, Attorney General Janet Reno lifted the ban on gays in the FBI. Buttino won compensation including pension rights. Buttino. See 1993, December 12.

1993, December 12
New York Times: " FBI Settlement Bans Bias Against Homosexuals." See also: 1993, June.

1994, November 6
Rich, Frank. “The Smearing Game,” New York Times, 6 November 1994;

1995, January 1
Theoharis, Athan. J. Edgar Hoover, Sex and Crime: An Historical Antidote. Ivan R. Dee; First Edition (January 1, 1995).


Potter "Queer" (2006): Theoharis’s work is particularly important because his 1995 book, J. Edgar Hoover, Sex and Crime: An Historical Antidote, is the only work devoted to disproving the sexual rumors about Hoover, and it is routinely cited as authoritative “proof” that the Rosenstiel story is false. Theoharis’s authority on these questions is grounded in his reputation as one of the most knowledgeable and dedicated scholars of the FBI and one who has meticulously documented Hoover’s violations and manipulation of American law for decades before this controversy erupted. He has also been an activist in the field of political history, changing the terms of the discipline by challenging the government’s right to keep secrets from scholars and citizens. He was a plaintiff in the Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, filed in the 1970s, which made available many of the FBI records on which he and subsequent historians, including myself, have relied.

After Susan Rosenstiel’s story became public Theoharis became a frequent commentator in both general interest and academic publications. He vigorously refuted her claims in a series of articles that ultimately produced J. Edgar Hoover, Sex and Crime, which departs from his normal archival methods to address the historiographical problems presented by the controversy.

In the book Theoharis forcefully maintained that truth is foundational to history and that Summers was operating in a universe different from that of the professional historian.

Potter "Queer" (2006), page 375.

“Each of the allegations [about Hoover's homosexuality] turned out to be baseless,” Theoharis notes, “either because records that would have confirmed the allegations had been destroyed or because what was being offered was an eyewitness account. A principal source of the rumors were criminals, and of course, the gay community.” Gay men spread these rumors because of a political agenda, Theoharis adds, “‘outing’ Hoover, whether to expose his hypocritical homophobia or to show that homosexuals could hold sensitive government positions without compromising national security.”

Potter, "Queer" (2006), page 377, citing Theoharis, J. Edgar Hoover, Sex and Crime, 44–45, 53.

Diarmuid Jeffreys. The Bureau: Inside the Modern FBI (New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1995). Includes the theory that J. Edgar Hoover was blackmailed into not attacking the Mafia (page 84). 

1995, June 25
DeLoach, Cartha D. ("Deke"). Hoover's FBI: the Inside Story by Hoover's Trusted Lieutenant. Regnery Publishing, Inc. 1st edition (June 25, 1995). Search: "homosexual" = 17 pages, including 66, 74, 76.. Search "homosexuality" , 74, 75, 76. Research request: content!!!

1995, August 15
Paul Maccabee, John Dillinger Slept Here: A Crooks Tour Of Crime And Corruption In St Paul 1920-1936.Minnesota Historical Society Press, August 15, 1995. ISBN-10: 0873513150. ISBN-13: 978-0873513159; references to "queer" Hoover by Alvin Karpis. Includes citations. Research request: Full citations for quotations about Hoover by Karpis.

Arts and Entertainment Network (A&E) TV special: "J. Edgar Hoover: Private and Confidential". Anthony Summers told a story from his book about Hoover and his associate director, Clyde Tolson, holding hands in a taxi. Bill Bonnano, son of crime boss Joseph “Joey Bananas” Bonnano, asserted later in the show that the family’s lawyer [Roy Cohn] possessed pictures of a cross-dressed Hoover that protected his clients from federal investigations.

Potter, "Queer" (2006), page 363, citing: Joshua Gamson, Freaks Talk Back: Tabloid Talk Shows and Sexual Nonconformity (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998); Summers, 13; quotations from the A&E special are from my [Potter's] own transcriptions. The blackmail theory has been widely repeated; it can be found in Diarmuid Jeffreys, The Bureau: Inside the Modern FBI (New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1995), 84.

Gamson, Joshua. Freaks Talk Back: Tabloid Talk Shows and Sexual Nonconformity (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998).

Potter, Claire Bond. War on Crime: Bandits, G-Men and the Politics of Mass Culture (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1998).

1998, November 9
Tony Poveda; Richard Powers; Susan Rosenfeld; Athan G. Theoharis. The FBI: A Comprehensive Reference Guide. (Nov 9, 1998). Search term: "homosexual": Frank Buttino, a 20-year veteran FBI agent filed suit in 1990, challenging his dismissal as a security risk after he admitted being homosexual.

Poveda and others, page 137.

1999, September 23
Andrew, Christopher. The Sword And The Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive And The Secret History Of The KGB. Basic Books. 1st edition (September 23, 1999) ISBN-10: 0465003109. ISBN-13: 978-0465003105.

KGB spread rumors about J. Edgar Hoover's alleged homosexuality in an effort to discredit him and the U.S. In 1976, the KGB also forged an FBI memo of June 20, 1940 in which J. Edgar Hoover reported that Senator Henry Jackson was a homosexual. During the 1976, the KGB also sent memo to the U.S. press alleging that Richard Perle and Senatory Jenry Jackson were members of a gay sex club. In 1977, the KGB sent another memo to the U.S. press about Jackson's alleged homosexuality.