J. Edgar Hoover Hub

The NSA, Data Privacy, and Gay Rights


130606-NSA-headquarters-tight-730aYou don't have to be a libertarian to get angry at the jaw-dropping revelations that the American intelligence apparatus has been mining data from various U.S. Internet companies. Many of us are aware that private and public entities know quite a bit about us; data mining, after all, is how the Google banner, Amazon book recommendations, and Facebook sidebar ads work. But few -- outside those of us who study digital privacy -- realized the scope of the NSA's reach. 

The government's intelligence gathering program -- called PRISM -- is ostensibly trying to achieve the worthy goal of preventing terror attacks. But the Kafka-esque bureaucracy it's creating could turn dangerous in the wrong hands. We've seen it before, during red scares that targeted Jews, blacks, gays, intellectuals, and other liberals; so let's not fall into the abyss of complacency by passing off the NSA's behavior as just something that makes us feel safer.

These kinds of privacy invasions have a less direct relationship to the gay community than raids of gay bars or anti-gay employment discrimination or bans on the freedom to marry. But even if it is true that the government only targeted foreigners abroad and did not discriminate on whose data it was gathering, the sweeping nature of NSA data gathering and this troubling example of the lag between our technology and our privacy protections should especially worry traditionally victimized groups.

Privacy law and the gay community have a long history. The explicit elucidation of a constitutional right to sexual privacy in the 1960s helped give us important precedents like the right to access contraception, the right to choose to terminate a pregnancy, and the right to engage in private, consensual sex with someone of the same sex without being thrown in jail. Yet, over the years, our privacy has been invaded to stop the dissemination of gay-related political or cultural speech through the mail, to force us to disclose our memberships in community organizations that advanced gay rights, and to fire us from our jobs when our personal sexual orientation becomes known. 

Privacy is essential for the full realization of gay rights. Why? It's not because we need to hide who we are or hide our sexual conduct.

Let's discuss AFTER THE JUMP...

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Movies: "J Edgar" Interview, Dustin Lance Black's Cautionary Tale

Leonardo, Clint and "Historian" Dustin Lance Black on the J EDGAR set

...would live in the movie theater but for the poor internet reception. He blogs daily at the Film Experience. Follow him on Twitter @nathanielr.

Last week we had a very brief chat with Dustin Lance Black, the Oscar winning screenwriter of Milk fame. After that historic success he had the opportunity to direct a picture (What's Wrong With Virginia?) and now he's back with a biographical screenplay for another famous director, Clint Eastwood. After brief introductions, we jumped right into the movie at hand and our conversation in full follows. Lance's sprawling screenplay for J EDGAR leaps back and forth across the decades to chart the entire professional life of the infamous FBI man J. Edgar Hoover (Leonardo DiCaprio) while perpetually glancing sideways at his notoriously intimate relationship with his right hand man Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer). The movie is proving divisive but Oscar buzz, particularly for DiCaprio's baity lead performance in Best Actor, continues.

JedgarpremiereTOWLEROAD: This is your second feature film biopic of a famous gay American. Will we get a trilogy?

DUSTIN LANCE BLACK: No, You know... no plans in the near future. I'm doing the 'Barefoot Bandit' story on Colton Harris-Moore and then Under the Banner of Heaven after that. So nope. But these two, for me, Milk and J. Edgar were sort of bookends in a way. One is a mirror of the other.

J Edgar being the more cautionary tale?

Yes. I think so [Laughs]. One of them had extraordinary political power. The other one was just trying to get a small piece of it. One came out of the closet and by doing so spread hope. The other one stayed in the closet and spread fear and insecurity.

There is some poetic justic here. J. Edgar Hoover was known for prying into people's personal lives and here you are investigating his. Were you nervous about doing so, given that some people get angry when others speculate about the sexuality of the famous and the deceased.  

Well people have been speculating about J. Edgar's sexuality for generations now. People have been saying 'Oh, he ran around in cocktail dresses!' That, to me, didn't ring true and in my research proved not to be true. But also in looking into his record as a heterosexual he failed miserably. And so it becomes quite clear when you look at what he did and didn't do that whether or not he ever consummated it, this was a guy who was not straight. 



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Leonardo DiCaprio and Clint Eastwood Discuss Cross-dressing, 'Aggressive' Gay Kisses in 'J Edgar'


The Hollywood Reporter talks to Leonardo DiCaprio and Clint Eastwood about the upcoming biopic J Edgar. Sounds as though they play the gay element right on the edge.

LCCEOn the gay kiss:

Neither Eastwood nor DiCaprio has drawn any conclusions about Hoover sexuality.

"Whether he was gay remains to be seen," Eastwood says. "But [he and Clyde Tolson] were inseperable (sic) buddies. Was that becase he didn't trust anybody else or was it a love story? I think they had a great affection; whether it was gay or not, I don't know."

DiCaprio elaborates, "What you cannot doubt is that Clyde Tolson and he had a relationship that spanned most of their life; they lived with each other, had lunch and dinner, and [Hoover] left everything to Clyde. Unarguably, they were partners in some sense."

The film depicts Tolson aggressively kissing Hoover on the mouth at the end of their fistfight.

And the rumored cross-dressing:

"Along the way, people accused him of [that]," Eastwood notes. "But nobody knows how accurate it was. Evidently the woman who accused him of that, her husband had been sent to the slammer by Hoover. So you don't know how much was vengeance."

Eastwood himself believes "there is a certain amount of truth" to all the allegations, but wanted to retain some ambiguity. One scene in the film shows Hoover wearing his mother's dress.

Leonardo DiCaprio is 'The Most Powerful Man in the World' in Posters for 'J Edgar'


Two new one-sheets have been released for J Edgar, featuring the barking visage of Leonardo DiCaprio as the former (possibly gay) FBI head.

The patriotic version, AFTER THE JUMP...

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FBI Officials, Former Aide Tell Clint Eastwood They Didn't See Anything Gay About J. Edgar Hoover


Some insights into the upcoming Clint Eastwood biopic of J Edgar Hoover and the research Eastwood and the cast did on Hoover's rumored homosexuality from USA Today.

Jedgar The folks at the Hoover Foundation don't seem too pleased that this angle was being researched or may be explored in the film, and deny that Hoover was gay, but don't want anyone to think it's because they're anti-gay:

William Baker, a former agent and Hoover foundation vice president, characterized Eastwood's letter as "polite, but non-committal."

"Concern still persists (that the angle is being explored)," Baker said. None of the agents interviewed has seen the film. What alarms them is what Baker has heard from people familiar with the movie and a suggestive image in the movie's trailer (Watch it HERE) Hoover's character clutching the hand of Tolson, played by Armie Hammer.

"We're caught in a dilemma here," Baker said. "We don't want to support something not based in fact, but we're not against the new FBI and diverse workplace."

Meanwhile, the Hoover Foundation chair had a bit of a stronger reaction:

"There is no basis in fact for such a portrayal of Mr. Hoover," William Branon, chairman of The J. Edgar Hoover Foundation, wrote to Eastwood this year. "It would be a grave injustice and monumental distortion to proceed with such a depiction based on a completely unfounded and spurious assertion."

Eastwood and DiCaprio met with the FBI earlier this year. Assistant FBI Director Mike Kortan told them the trail is cold on Hoover's homosexuality:

"Vague rumors and fabrications have cropped up from time to time, but there is no evidence in the historical record on this issue."

And a former aide to Hoover told DiCaprio the same thing:

"When the subject of homosexuality came up, I made it very clear that I never saw any evidence of it whatsoever," said DeLoach, 91, who served as Hoover's deputy director for more than five years. "I traveled with him, I ate in his home and he in mine. I knew Clyde Tolson to be Mr. Hoover's companion and best friend. When you are somebody like Mr. Hoover, I guess you need somebody to talk to."

Filmmaker Eastwood asked FBI about Hoover's sexuality [usa today]

Leonardo DiCaprio and Armie Hammer in 'J Edgar' Trailer: WATCH


The trailer for J Edgar, the Clint Eastwood biopic about FBI director J Edgar Hoover starring Leonardo DiCaprio (Hoover) and Armie Hammer (Clyde Tolson), has arrived.

Watch it, AFTER THE JUMP...


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