Thursday, February 24, 2011

FBI Files: 
Gay Vet Outed Hoover in 1957

There is so much brave gay activism that took place before the Stonewall Riots, including during the very closeted 1950s, and slowly but surely more of our history is coming to light.

I don't in any way wish to denigrate the courageous anger and rebellion of the bar patrons and street folks and cross-dressers and hustlers at the riots in New York City in 1969. Let's simply expand our facts about what took place before then, and by whom, to bring some dignity and tolerance to gay people in America.

At the site, recently released Federal Bureau of Investigation files from 1957 and 1958 detail the courage of one former U.S. Army Colonel John Reybold, an acknowledged homosexual who alleged that FBI director J. Edgar Hoover was "one of the boys." A total of 14-pages were released to in response to a FOIA request.

Several memos about Reybold were went to Hoover's deputy and life-partner Clyde Tolson. What do some of the memos report? From an August 1958 report on Reybold's private life:

During conversation, REYBOLD said at one time he had been an actor, that he had been in a Greek play that the police had closed. He said he liked young friends but that sometimes he had to beat them to keep them in place. Further stated he liked young men, liked to make love to them, liked to go to bed with them and to embrace them. He said he also like young men to go to concerts with him as this made him feel young.

At the Morals Division Office, REYBOLD said he has never been either the active or passive partner in any homosexual activity but admitted he "liked to love young men and embrace them." ...

In September 1958, more information was gathered on Reybold, as the above page states:

Reybold admits that he is a homosexual and he is very much angered at the ACLU because the Union will make no comment on laws regarding homosexuals. He has numerous complaints concerning the Washington vice squad and the manner in which it handles entraps such people as himself ...

The purpose of [redacted] furnishing this information is that Reybold has indicated to him that Mr. Hoover is "one of the boys" and also that there are supposed to be a considerable number in the Central Intelligence Agency and and the State Department ...

Also in September 1958, another memo about the allegations was copied to Tolson:

Reybold very obviously is a psychopathic case. He appears to have a warped, twisted, but cunning mind. He admittedly stated he is a homosexual by nature and has been one for a long time. He openly bragged of doing considerable reading and states he is currently carrying on a fight to change laws and social practices which besmirch homosexuality.

It was necessary to pin Reybold down in a very harsh manner. He denied that he had made the specific statement "Mr. Hoover is one of the boys." He denied ever making the statement that Mr. Hoover is a homosexual. He admitted that on several occasions, in company of other homosexuals, he had made the statement "J. Edgar Hoover is either an active homosexual or else has the potentialities of being a homosexual." Upon the immediate demand that produce facts to support such statements, he attempted to defend himself by stating: (1) the Director is a bachelor; (2) the Director loved his mother very dearly; and (3) the Director frequented the Mayflower Bar."

Then in October 1958, an agent sent Tolson a terse memo, above, about how the agency resolved the problems with Reybold and his allegations:

[Redacted] called me this afternoon advising that the above individual [Reybold] had called on him after his interview with representatives of the Bureau yesterday. He stated that obviously Reybold was shaky but, of course, had no idea where we had secured our information. [Redacted] stated he though Reybold was sufficiently "shook up" to keep his mouth shut in the future.

Googling John Reybold and homosexual and John Reybold and J. Edgar Hoover produce nothing of further relevance, leading me to wonder how this outing homosexual has fallen through the cracks. Have you ever heard anything about him, his open homosexuality, battles with the FBI and other institutions, and public statements regarding Hoover being homosexual?

Kudos to use of the Freedom of Information Act by the folks for requesting and sharing the file on Colonel John Reybold.


DavidEhrenstein said...

Wow, this is incredible. Forward this information immediately to Dustin lance Black who is writing screenplay for Clint Eastwood's Hoover movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio as J, Edgar and Armie Hammer (who played the Winkelvoss twins in The Social Network) as Clyde.

Ed Sikov said...

I agree with David - this is extraordinary. PEOPLE KNEW! At least one did, and there were likely some if not many others who never came to the Gestapo's - um - FBI's attention. The memos are chilling and exhilarating at the same time. What a find!