Jonathan Ned Katz: "F.B.I Surveillance of Homosexuals and Gay Groups, December 18, 2011

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On December 18, 2011, Katz sent this publicity release to numbers of email lists:

F.B.I. Surveillance of Homosexuals and Gay Groups, the website on LGBT history, is asking the public to help document the evidence of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s surveillance of homosexuals, alleged homosexuals, and gay groups around the nation. The website encourages the community’s participation in the recovery of LGBT history. It offers a public forum for logged on users to add to existing entries and create new articles.

Historian Jonathan Ned Katz, co-director of OutHistory, initiated the survey after seeing the film J. Edgar. “After viewing that speculative interpretation of J. Edgar Hoover’s life I was eager to know what evidence exists of the rumors about his sexual proclivities. I wanted to learn what was actually documented about the F.B.I.’s spying on homosexuals, alleged homosexuals, and homosexual rights groups.”

“After surveying some of what’s published about the FBI’s surveillance of homosexuality, I put notes about it on,” says Katz. “But I soon realized that the numbers of persons spied on, and the quantity of spying incidents is much greater than I could research by myself.

To initiate this public research project, Katz created an OutHistory page titled the “F.B.I. and Homosexuality”. This introduces the subject, and provides links to (1) a bibliography of relevant articles and books, (2) a chronology of events, and (3) a list of persons and groups investigated. All of these are open to public additions. Katz asks the public to add data to these entries.

OutHistory’s introduction to this survey may be viewed at: F.B.I. and Homosexuality: A History

“Documenting the rumors about J. Edgar provides fascinating evidence of American sexual and gender norms,” stresses Katz. “For example, in 1933, Collier’s magazine ran a story critical of F.B.I. snooping and of Hoover. The article says he ‘walks with a mincing step’. The accusation of ‘mincing’ -- walking in an effeminate manner -- has long been associated with men interested in sex with men.”