Rumors have long swirled around J. Edgar Hoover's sexuality and supposed penchant for donning women's clothing.
Now, thanks to an upcoming biopic about the former FBI director helmed by Clint Eastwood, written by "Milk" screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, and starring Leonardo Dicarprio as Hoover, those rumors, including an examination of his possibly romantic relationship with former aide Clyde Tolson, are headed to the big screen.
While many in the gay community welcome the controversial portrayal, the FBI is less than thrilled about the subplot.
USA Today reports that when Eastwood and DiCaprio met with Bureau representatives to gain insight into Hoover's life they were told that there is no evidence he was gay.
Assistant FBI Director Mike Kortan asserted, "Vague rumors and fabrications have cropped up from time to time, but there is no evidence in the historical record on this issue."
Kortan added that the FBI was approached by the celebrities, not the other way around, and that "what they did with [the information], as with any production, has been entirely in their hands."
The current FBI agents are not the only ones trying to de-gay Hoover's biography. "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 earlier this year.
"These allegations spun by an author ofquestionable repute and sensationalized writings were "based" upon information provided during a paid interview of an unreliable individual with past convictions for perjury...
To discount the truth and portray a sexual relationship between Mr. Hoover and Clyde Tolson would truly be a miscarriage of the facts and overshadow the many contributions of Mr. Hoover...
While they may not have been perfect in all respects, Mr. Hoover and Clyde Tolson were dedicated public servants and do not deserve to be maligned on completely unfounded assertions concerning their private lives."
"Please rest assured that we do not give any credence to cross-dressing allegations made by Susan Rosenstiel, nor do we intend to portray an open homosexual relationship between Mr. Hoover and Clyde Tolson...
Though no one can know his private side with certainty, we hope that a thoughtful, intelligent portrayal of the man will put his life story in proper historical context."
USA Today adds that Cartha "Deke" DeLoach, a former top aide to Hoover, told DiCaprio, "...I never saw any evidence of it whatsoever."
The 91 year old continued, "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."
In September Dustin Lance Black told Next magazine that the film is not as gay as "Milk," but that the gay content makes up "a third" of the biopic. He added that the screenplay remains as gay as it was when he first wrote it and that Eastwood did not ask him to make changes to it regarding the portrayal of Hoover's sexuality.
"When I finished a draft I liked, and think I got to what the truth is, it’s a story that reflects what gay life was like pre-Stonewall, which was very different from what it looked like for Harvey Milk. That’s the script Clint and the studio read and I’ll tell you what—not only did Clint and the studio never cut or change a word, they never had a note about it. Clint said some things that were so incredibly moving that he understood the struggle young gays go through today. If anything, Clint made it even more human and universal.”
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