Suspected Fagala J. Edgar Hoover Thought His Gaydar Was Tops

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We already know that long-time FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover — himself rumored to be a fairy — spent government resources in the 1960s looking into the sexuality of Jack Valenti, then an aide to President Lyndon B. Johnson. The investigation turned up no evidence, and Valenti avoided the career-ending label of “fag.” Even fellow former aide and current TV host Bill Moyers was interested in Valenti’s sexuality, inquiring about a photographer friend of Valenti’s whom he spent nights with. But while false allegations of homo-doings abound, one thing now appears clear: Hoover thought he could spot a gay from a mile away. Maybe ’cause he was one?

Extracting from Johnson’s tapes, Slate‘s Jack Shafer surmises: “What we do know from the tapes was that Hoover thought he had flawless gaydar. [Historian Michael] Beschloss writes that Hoover believed, based on a report from liberal columnist Drew Pearson, that the Republicans were about to drop a ‘bombshell’ on a Johnson administration official on Oct. 31, a bit of intelligence that he had passed along to Johnson. On the morning of Oct. 31, Johnson telephoned Hoover for new gossip, and the conversation ambled toward a Navy employee. … Beschloss writes in a note that Johnson was having fun at Hoover’s expense: ‘LBJ knew full well the rumors that Hoover was a secret homosexual.'”

To the transcripts!

LBJ: … They raised the question of the way he combed his hair and the way he did something else, but they had no act of his. …

Hoover: It’s just … that his mannerisms … were suspicious.

LBJ: Yeah, he worked for me for four or five years, but he wasn’t even suspicious to me. I guess you are going to have to teach me something about this stuff. … I swear I can’t recognize them. I don’t know anything about them.

Hoover: It’s a thing that you can’t tell sometimes. Just like in the case of the poor fellow Jenkins. … There are some people who walk kind of funny. That you might kind of think a little bit off or maybe queer. But there was no indication of that in the Jenkins case.