J. Edgar Hoover

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John Edgar Hoover (1895–1972) was a famous American extortionist and asshole who headed the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). President Richard Nixon had a large building in Washington, D.C., unfortunately named after J. Edgar Hoover in May 1972, two days after J. Edgar died.[note 1] J. Edgar Hoover ran the Bureau for 37 years (1935 to 1972) and was known for both his improper and illegal conduct, both at the behest of and independent of the Presidents he served under.[1] Hoover organized surveillance not only of famous activists like Martin Luther King, Jr., but also of officials in presidential administrations.[2]

Evidence of Hoover's racism can be traced back to his membership in the Kappa Alpha OrderWikipedia fraternity while at law school (graduating in 1916). Kappa Alpha had been founded immediately after the Civil War, and was intertwined with the Lost Cause of the South mythology for most of its existence.[3]:38

In 2011 Leonardo DiCaprio, under the direction of Clint Eastwood, presented a more dignified portrait of the man than ever existed in reality, in J. Edgar.Wikipedia At least he never talked to a chair. And no, Leo did not get an Oscar for that.


While J. Edgar Hoover didn't start the trend of McCarthy-ish political delusions of seeing the commies everywhere, he certainly exacerbated it to another level entirely. His career in law enforcement really took off when Attorney General Alexander Mitchell Palmer gave him the noble task of rounding up loudmouth pinkos and assorted foreigners during the 1919 Red Scare, and he just sort of stuck with what he knew after that, regardless of what was actually happening around him. This culminated in his being convinced that the aforementioned Dr. King was a communist and declaring the Black Panther Party as the greatest political threat to the United States. Even the United States Department of Justice thought he was taking his rhetoric too far.[4]

Of course, Hoover was more than eager to turn a blind eye to actual American terrorists on the Right, at one time even withholding evidence on the notorious 16th Street Baptist Church bombings from Alabama prosecutors until all but blackmailed into releasing it. Maybe if he didn't coddle the Ku Klux Klan and White Citizens' CouncilWikipedia so much he wouldn't have had to contend with the black power backlash... you know, the thing MLK explicitly warned him about.[5]


Hoover and Tolson, vacationing together in Florida in 1939

Hoover and the FBI under his directorship spent decades harassing and spying on homosexuals.[6] Even after his death and the rise of gay liberation, Hoover managed to continue harassing the LGBTQ community: the now-defunct J. Edgar Hoover Foundation[7] managed to get a (probably unenforceable) restraining order against the tour guides of the 'gay corner' that was intentionally placed adjacent to Hoover's and FBI deputy director Clyde Tolson's adjacent graves.[6] Hoover and Tolson had often been alleged to have been longtime lovers.[6]

According to Susan Rosenstiel, a wife of Lewis RosenstielWikipedia who was a friend of Hoover and Roy Cohn, Hoover was a cross-dresser in private. She had discovered her husband in bed with Cohn, knew that her husband was gay, and witnessed Hoover in drag:[8]:254

He was wearing a fluffy black dress, very fluffy, with flounces, and lace stockings and high heels, and a black curly wig. He had makeup on, and false eyelashes. It was a very short skirt, and he was sitting there in the living room of the suite with his legs crossed. Roy [Cohn] introduced him to me as ‘Mary’ and he replied, “Good evening,’ brusque, like the first time I’d met him. It was obvious he wasn’t a woman, you could see where he shaved. It was Hoover."

Historian Beverly Gage is suspicious of Rosenstiel's account however since activity would have put Hoover in excessive risk of exposure and because Rosenstiel had been paid for the account, something that does not meet current journalistic standards.[3]:535

Hoover and Tolson's private life together was evidentially erotic, both anecdotally and photographically. For example, among Hoover's personal effects found was a poem by Elsie Robinson, "A Song of Men" which framed a photo of a statue of two naked men holding hands with the poem including the text, "Everything shared. And yet always something withheld. Each man coming out and finding the hand of his friend yet never quite coming out yet.[3]:189-190,plates The poem and photo had originally been published in a 1927 issue of Cosmopolitan. Hoover's copy was slightly altered from the publication.[3]:plate[9]:25

See also[edit]


  1. Nothing to do with the Hoover Dam; that's someone else.


  1. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,879504,00.html
  2. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4638275/
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 G-Man: J. Edgar Hoover and the Making of the American Century by Beverly Gage (2022) Viking. ISBN 0670025372.
  4. "I think, frankly, that he overstated the concern, the real concern, that the Black Panthers were to the country." Jerris Leonard, first Administrator of the Law Enforcement Assistant Administration
  5. "Although King was hesitant to criticize Black Power openly, he told his staff on 14 November 1966 that Black Power 'was born from the wombs of despair and disappointment. Black Power is a cry of pain. It is in fact a reaction to the failure of White Power to deliver the promises and to do it in a hurry... The cry of Black Power is really a cry of hurt.'" [1]
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Love and death: The legacy of Congressional Cemetery’s 'Gay Corner' by Andrew L. Yarrow (August 16, 2021) The Washington Post.
  7. J. Edgar Hoover Foundation
  8. Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover by Anthony Summers (1993) Plume. ISBN 0399138005.
  9. A Song of Men by Elsie Robinson (July 1927) Cosmopolitan.