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Tape: Nixon 'Understood' Homosexuality But Didn't Want It on TV


Here's a fascinating excerpt of a Richard Nixon tape (via Daily Dish) in which Nixon discusses homosexuality with his Chief of Staff Bob Haldeman and Chief Domestic Advisor John Ehrlichman. What spurred the conversation was Nixon's discussion of an episode of the then new TV show All in the Family which dealt with gay subject matter.

In the tape, Nixon tells the aides, "But the point is, I do not mind the homosexuality. I understand it." There is then a 14-second beep. A commenter on the YouTube site says that during the 14-second beep Nixon was discussing J. Edgar Hoover and his "live-in companion." Nixon goes on to say: "But nevertheless, the point that I make is that Goddamn it, I do not think that you glorify on public television homosexuality."


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  1. S0 just what was it that Nixon understood about men having sex with men.

    That is was and always was part of life?
    That it is part of the military experience?

    We wont know - because of that long 14 second beep covering up the juciest part of reality.

    Now what would be so awful that it had to be erased ?


    best of the web

    Posted by: RJP3 | Mar 2, 2009 12:02:36 PM

  2. of course trickie dick understood homosexuality. all those vacations with bebe rebozo weren't for nuthin'!

    Posted by: alguien | Mar 2, 2009 12:14:53 PM

  3. I think it's funny that they missed the point of All in the Family entirely.

    That, and thinking Meathead swung both ways...

    Posted by: protogenes | Mar 2, 2009 12:38:04 PM

  4. It's time like this I wish there was a hell so Richard Nixon could be burning in it.

    Posted by: Des | Mar 2, 2009 12:59:28 PM

  5. Nixon was a deeply conflicted man. He was extremely practical, obsessed with power. If there was truly any part of him that "understood" homosexuality, it was that pragmatic, disinterested part of his personality. But, at the same time, he had enormous religious hang-ups, thanks to his upbringing - and that's also what we see here.

    Posted by: Jordan | Mar 2, 2009 1:08:58 PM

  6. You know, I remember that "All in the Family" episode. For those of you who complain about stereotypes (all the time): that gay character was a very masculine guy that Archie admired very much before he found out he was gay. American television has made attempts to give different images of gay people...a little...sometimes. I'm feeling patriotic this week...maybe just today.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Mar 2, 2009 1:38:18 PM

  7. Who's Nixon?

    Posted by: Marc | Mar 2, 2009 2:14:25 PM

  8. I'm not sure what the point of this is. Who's doing the beeping these days? and why? I don't think this offers any insights into the man or the era.

    Posted by: anon | Mar 2, 2009 2:42:58 PM

  9. This reminded me that historians/medianiques have totally ignored/hidden the fact that Nixon's rabidly loyal secretary, Rose Mary Woods, "the 5th Nixon," she of the infamous "18-minute gap" in the Watergate tapes that no one who knew her intelligence and talents believed was an accident was.....wait for it.....

    a lesbian.

    A gay former roommate of mine in DC went to a party at her house circa years ago only to discover that she kissed well as poured drinks on/tried to physically attack reporters who had dissed her hero.

    Posted by: Michael Bedwell | Mar 2, 2009 3:02:38 PM

  10. PS: And, of course, ironically, it was another publicly closeted lesbian who helped force Nixon to resign: black Congresswoman Barbara Jordan.

    Posted by: Michael Bedwell | Mar 2, 2009 3:03:59 PM

  11. "Designers hate women" because they design flat-chested shifts. Yet he's repulsed by hot pants. Amazing.

    Posted by: sam | Mar 2, 2009 3:08:00 PM

  12. Well I mean Sam, they are hot pants after all.

    Posted by: Marc | Mar 2, 2009 3:35:51 PM

  13. Ummm . . . if you listen closely, you would not hear the word "it" when Nixon says I do not mind the homosexuality, I understand. . . (14 second bleep) Omissions in the tapes were made for a variety of reasons and one such reason was (personal returnable) in which case the omitted material was made to protect persons OTHER than Richard Nixon, such as his family and other persons in Washington.

    Posted by: Dave | Mar 17, 2010 11:06:53 PM

  14. Yeah, I listened closely and I don't hear the word "it" either, the beep comes in right after the word "understand". I expect that what Nixon said went something like, "I don't mind the homosexuality, I understand so and so is queer, and so is _____, and ______ and they're all good public servants, but nevertheless.

    Posted by: Jack | Jan 27, 2011 9:26:24 PM

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