Former FBI agents have a message for Hollywood: J. Edgar Hoover wasn’t gay…not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Their concerns arise out of the portrayal of Hoover in the forthcoming movie J. Edgar staring Leonardo DiCaprio. Director Clint Eastwood says the film is “not a movie about two gay guys. It’s a movie about how this guy manipulated everybody around him and managed to stay on through nine presidents. I mean, I don’t give a crap if he was gay or not.”But as USA Today reported, groups of former agents “have campaigned forcefully against any depiction of the long-rumored sexual relationship between Hoover and former top aide Clyde Tolson.”
“There is no basis in fact for such a portrayal of Mr. Hoover,” William Branon, chairman of The J. Edgar Hoover Foundation, wrote in a letter to Eastwood. “It would be a grave injustice and monumental distortion to proceed with such a depiction based on a completely unfounded and spurious assertion.”
William Baker, a former agent and J. Edgar Hoover foundation vice president, told USA Today that they were concerned about historical accuracy.
“We’re caught in a dilemma here,” Baker said. “We don’t want to support something not based in fact, but we’re not against the new FBI and diverse workplace.”
But gay rights advocates are wondering why the portrayal of Hoover as gay would get people so worked up.
“I don’t know specifically why current officers object to the claim that Hoover was gay,” Jacob Appel, a New York-based lawyer that has written and advocated for gay and lesbian rights, told TickleTheWire.com. “If their concern is solely for historical accuracy, and they don’t feel there is evidence to support that claim, then that’s certainly a reasonable position.”
“On the other hand, if these individuals actually believe that being gay would somehow tarnish Hoover’s image — and I sincerely hope that no one in the FBI holds such deeply misguided views today — then their positions would reflect the sort of bigotry and ignorance that have no place in civilized society,” Appel said.
Rod Hearne, the Executive Director of the Seattle-based Equal Rights Washington, told Tickle The Wire that it’s “hard to imagine that two such powerful, unmarried, near-constant companions as J Edgar Hoover and Clyde Tolson would be seen as anything but gay.”
Besides, people shouldn’t be so worried about Hoover’s sexuality, it’s the other things he did to be worried about, Hearne said.
“If the FBI and J Edgar Hoover’s friends and associates resist the notion that the blackmailing, extorting, empire-building, racist, homophobic man was gay, fine, whatever they wish to think,” Hearne said. “The straights can have him.”