Rewriting History

Crusty Old FBI Agents Mad That J. Edgar Portrays Hoover as a Big Fat Homo

j-edgar-posterCritics have already savaged J. Edgar, Clint Eastwood’s biopic about longtime FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover. Now his government contemporaries are slamming the fact that the iconic Mr. Hoover, revered in the Bureau, was portrayed as a gay lover to his confidant Clyde Tolson. They aired their grievances in the Washington Post:

“We were led to believe this would be an accurate portrayal of Mr. Hoover,” said Thomas McGorray, who runs the e-mail list xgboys. “Everybody feels betrayed. It’s typical Hollywood. They went off on the sex stuff.”

“Xgboys,” BTW, is not a NSFW list-serv where pervy old men trade pictures of child stars gone bad. It’s a private mailing list for ex-FBI agents, obviously! A more sensible agent named Scott Nelson is less grumble-grumble about the matter:

As a technical adviser on the film, former agent Scott Nelson said he also advised the filmmakers it was “gratuitous” to include a scene showing Hoover and Tolson kissing and to show Hoover putting on his mother’s dress in his grief after she died.

But Nelson thinks some of his fellow former agents are overreacting.

“It’s a biopic. It’s not a biography,” said Nelson, who now runs his own security firm in California. “That doesn’t mean it’s factual. Agents deal in fact, and they’re offended at the literary license taken by the screenwriter. I know why they’re offended.”

However, Nelson said, the film does not disparage Hoover, and the speculative focus on his personal life was part of dramatic storytelling: “That’s Hollywood.”

So it’s all screenwriter Dustin Lance Black‘s fault. In the article, they say “historians agree that there is no evidence that either man was gay,” and Hoover expert Cohen called DLB out on this publicly back in March.

Do you blame the openly gay writer for taking a close friendship between two FBI dudes and turning it into repressed gay love? Maybe his ham-handedness with that subplot is indicative that he should he stick to winning Oscars for writing movies about definitively gay people. Or maybe just star in pictures of his own?

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  • bagooka

    Hoover wasn’t gay at all! He was straight.

  • Pocket Otter

    Dustin Lance Black should stick to writing horrible, non-narrative pieces like “Milk” and “J Edgar” that woo the liberal Hollywood crowd. I’m sure if he were ever hired to write a bio on Clinton & Gore, they too would be secret gay lovers. Too, too predictable.

  • Cam

    Look at how CAREFULLY They are parsing their words…

    “”Nelson said he also advised the filmmakers it was “gratuitous” to include a scene showing Hoover and Tolson kissing and to show Hoover putting on his mother’s dress in his grief after she died.””

    He said “Gratuitous”, he did NOT say it was false. Sorry boys, this isn’t the 1950’s, your man doesn’t still get to stay in the closet.

  • chuck

    This from the same agents who were digging in other people’s garbage, planting bugs,
    and blackmailing people to get the goods on all those lefty people like MLK, JFK, and\
    LBJ. I always thought that the Mafia had some juicy pictures of J Edgar and his
    boyfriend, why else did he refuse to acknowledge the existence of the Costa Nostra.

  • B

    No. 4 · chuck wrote, “I always thought that the Mafia had some juicy pictures of J Edgar and his boyfriend, why else did he refuse to acknowledge the existence of the Costa Nostra.”

    … well one plausible reason is that Hoover was apparently into puffing up the FBI’s reputation, which is always good for getting more funding out of Congress. Acknowledging the existence of the Mafia would also mean admitting that the FBI had failed to solve a long-standing problem.

    It’s not like the FBI was ignoring the Mafia – if anything it may have acted abominably in order to protect informants spying on them: at least that’s what suggests.

    You can read some additional details at (although probably a less impartial source than The Telegraph).

  • Michael Bedwell

    Such homophobic agents, old and u, are going to be even more angry when they learn that more and more out, proud gays continue to close in on J’Edgar & Clyde. The ashes of the great Frank Kameny—whom the Bureau spied on—and who refused J’Edgar’s demand that he take Hoover off the Mattachine DC mailing list—will be interred in the plot behind the famous grave of his protege Leonard Matlovich. Leonard intentionally chose his plot, and his “Gay Vietnam Veterna – When I was in the military they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one” stone because he got a kick out of it being just five away from Tolsen [whose stone is PINK, by the way], and knowing such agents would have to pass his on their way to paying homage to J’Edgar further down the row.

    However, I agree with the agents that the film is irresponsible, but only for academic credibility reasons vis-a-vis whether he was gay—but Black made up shit about Milk, too. Worst of all, though, is his attempt to paint the willful monster Hoover as a victim while doing little to inform younger audience how horrible a monster he was:

    “allowing Hoover to narrate his own story comes as a generous gift from Black” (Variety)

    “Clint Eastwood’s ‘J. Edgar’ focuses on the closety & ickey spousal-like relationship between Hoover & Clyde Tolson, while no mention of the thousands of gay men destroyed by Hoover from his pathological closet.” (Charles Francis, The Kameny Papers)

    “[Its] point of view might be summarized in this way: Sure, J. Edgar di…d some bad things, lots and lots of them…but at least he was gay. [Its] theory goes: in trying to rid the world of hidden evils, he was actually trying to cure his own, when all he needed was to own his sexuality and accept himself, etc. I don’t buy it. And…so what? Virtually every gay man of Hoover’s generation was repressed, but only Hoover was wiretapping Jack Kennedy & sending crazy anonymous letters to Martin Luther King Jr.” (San Francisco Chronicle)

    “a mendacious, muddled, sub-mediocre mess…Hoover’s longtime deputy director & presumed lover, Clyde Tolson, is played [as]—how do I put this delicately?—an absolute flaming queen, who uses the term ‘fashion-forward’ [in about] 1930. For just a minute there, it looks as if ‘J. Edgar’ is about to become ‘Queer Eye for the FBI’, & I’m profoundly sorry it doesn’t. [It] might be helpful if this movie made the point that Hoover was as close as we’ve ever come (so far) to having an unelected dictator, & that the only real reason he didn’t become a Stalin-level tyrant was the constraint of a democratic political system he could not entirely subvert, much as he tried.” (Salon)

  • Michael Bedwell

    Uh, obviously, “old and young” not “old and u.” :- O

  • Kev C

    J Edgar Hoover could easily pass for gay and black .. even if he was.

  • Yawn

    who really cares?

  • George412

    Dustin Lance Black is a terrible writer. The story for J. EDGAR was monotonus and had no through line in the story. It was a poorly sewn together script. Hopefully this will be DLB’s last script.

    Before everyone jumps on me claiming that Black had a great script with MILK, he didn’t write it. That script was written by Ron Nyswaner who went uncredited. Black got attention and the accolades but he didn’t do the work.

  • Tackle

    @ Kev C: Interesting because Truman Capote who lived on the same street as J.Edgar said that everyone in the neighborhood knew he was black. There was a special with Tony Brown, about ten yrs ago, where some of J.Edgar’s Black relatives talked about how he deleated his background, altered documents relating to relitives and had a new birth certificate made. I Haven’t seen the film, but I’m woundering if it touched on this.

  • Mel Gibson

    Oh, fuck those bigoted pieces of shit. Don’t waste your breath on them, they’ll be exiting the planet very shortly.

  • ewe

    There was so much dramatic liberty taken with this film. No one could possibly know what he did or thought on his own time. That scene with him trying on his mothers clothes after her death was dispicable. Many people sleep and hold their loved ones possessions for comfort and i think this whole film basically was a huge stretch. Shame on the filmmakers. I am very disappointed with this fictional tale being advertized pretty much as a documentary.

  • John R.

    The main reason for the “J. Edgar” mess is Clint Eastwood hands-off directing style and the probability that he goes into filming without reading the script. It’s a tough story to tell anyway, and it’s completely over the head of Dustin Lance Black, who won and Oscar but has not proven himself to be a good or even mediocre writer.

    Apparently Black’s next script is about the Barefoot Bandit, the teenager who went on a robbery spree in the Pacific Northwest a few years ago, and also might be gay. Maybe a Richard Simmons biopic is coming too?

  • Sol

    The crusty old FBI agents are mad that you called them crusty and old.

  • Cindy M

    I think people that claim hoover was gay are just homosexuals themselves with insecurity problems looking for justification and reassurance, what better way to do that than accuse one of the most noteable government figures of the united states? After all democratics and republicans run this country, and society’s image and most gays are liberals. He was highly pre-occupied with his career and power and maybe had some insecurity problems but that doesn’t make him gay. How would you like to work for something, put your whole life into something, to die and have someone not remember you for that, instead remember you for stupid rumors, stemmed from insecure people themselves? Like being a homosexual, even if it wasn’t true, just because his priorities/values were different? Pathetic, he never said he was gay, and there’s absolutely no real proof to support he was so grow up and stop slandering the dead.

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