Straight Dopes at the Times

The LA Times editorial mudpatch really threw a bitch-fit over Sheila Kuehl's SB 1437, which they say would require California textbooks to "tell the stories of contributions made to history by gays and lesbians." They jest that Kuehl (D-Santa Monica) may be trying to write herself into the history books (Kuehl was the first openly gay member of the State Legislature). The Times takes issue with Kuehl because they think history books ought to "tell about the most important contributions, and misdeeds, of people in history, regardless of their beliefs and orientations."

What a load of santorum. First of all, as an elected official, Kuehl will already be in the history books. She's just trying to make sure she's properly represented therein. Currently, schools cannot incorporate textbooks which "contain any matter that reclects adversely upon persons because of their race, sex, color, creed, handicap, national origin, or ancestry." I would argue that, considering how much husband/wife, emperor/emperess, fuhrer/girlfriend couplings you find in history, the perspective becomes warped. Omission of lifestyle details itself becomes an act of ... um ... adverse reflection.

Heteros have plenty of heroes to look up to, but wouldn't it be inspiring to gay schoolchildren everywhere if some of those heroes felt like heroines inside? Or dressed up like them in their spare time?

Was Alexander the Great gay? Or Socrates, or Julius Caesar? Not by our reckoning; though they all buggered many a boy in their time, there was no stigma associated with sodomy in the ancient world - think of it as a coupla rungs up on the intimacy ladder from a backrub.

Was Abe Lincoln gay? He certainly shared a bed with a man for awhile, but they didn't have climate-control back then so it doesn't prove much.

Which brings me to J. Edgar Hoover. Was he a cross-dresser? Nope, sorry. But he was widely believed to be gay; rumor has it that upon being informed of his death, Richard Nixon said, "Jesus Christ! That old cocksucker!" Whether he was referring to Jesus or Hoover is uncertain.

Was Hoover a ladies' man? Let's just saw two things:

  • Clyde Tolson was Hoover's closest companion, his "alter ego". The two men worked together at the Bureau, ate together, even vacationed together.
  • He lived alone with his mother until he was 43. Then she died.

Why would students benefit from learning that Hoover may have been gay? As head of the FBI through 48 years and eight presidents:

  • Hoover persecuted (among many others) so-called "homophile" (love of the same) groups such as New York's Mattachine Society - such organizations fought to end the oppression of gays, anti-sodomy laws and a general lack of fabulousness
  • He called Adlai Stevenson a fag to derail the future U.N. ambassador's 1952 bid for presidency
  • He threatened anyone who would challenge his sexuality whilst simultaneously gathering files on Eleanor Roosevet's lesbian lovers for blackmail

It's fascinating to me to imagine being Gay J. Edgar: a homosexual man in the midst of a society, a political party even, to which he was a degenerate - persecuting those courageous enough to speak out or fight for what he would rather hide for the sake of personal gain. Or was it patriotism, an urge to serve his country no matter what he must sacrifice, acknowledging the generally-accepted homophobia omnipresent throughout much of 20th century America?

Either way, it'd make for a fucking interesting history lesson. More fun than the Bantu migration anyway (though if you erase the letters B and u because the textbooks are cheap and you can, it says "the ant migration", which is funny when you're 12).


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