Letter: Hoover's sexuality

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The Independent Online
Sir: The confirmation of J. Edgar Hoover's secret homosexuality (6 February) comes as no surprise. It reinforces the view that those who are most vociferously anti-gay are often themselves closeted, self- hating homosexuals. Hoover was, it seems, a classic example of a repressed gay man who could not come to terms with his own sexual orientation, and who used homophobia as a smoke screen to cover up his own homosexuality.

To compensate for his sense of guilt and shame, and to deter suspicion and gossip, Hoover made a point of ostentatiously persecuting other homosexuals. His purges of 'faggots' (his word) from the State Department and armed forces during the McCarthy era wrecked the careers of thou-

sands of distinguished lesbians and gay men. Some ended up in prison; others were driven to

suicide.

That the Mafia used Hoover's homosexuality to compromise the FBI's fight against organised crime serves to highlight the social destructiveness of homophobia. It is prejudice which encourages secrecy and leaves covert lesbians and gay men open to blackmail. Only when society fully accepts homosexual people will those with a same-sex orientation feel able to come out and thereby no longer be vulnerable to compromise.

It is a lesson we in Britain ought to bear in mind when we hear the homophobic outpourings of MPs, judges, tabloid journalists, bishops and police chiefs. Among them are hypocrites responsible for some of the worst victimisation of the lesbian and gay community.

Yours faithfully,

PETER TATCHELL

London, SE1

6 February

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