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Could Any of These Men Be Gay?

The CIA Can Help You Spot the Queer Ones!
Could Any of These Men Be Gay?

You might think "this has got to be some kind of joke" when I say that, in 1980, the CIA put out a memo to its agents titled "Homosexual Investigations," which gave instructions on how to identity a homosexual perp (that's police talk for 'perpetrator'). But it's quite real: here is the link to the official page:

What were the motivations for such investigations? While some partial motivations will emerge as we go along, it is hard not to think that it had something to do with the 1980 Democratic Party officially supporting the gay and lesbian communities.

While you may want to peruse the actual CIA document for yourself, what follows are some choice quotations along with a bit of commentary.

1. Let's start with the basics: "One of the most common mistakes made by the average person is the conviction that he can recognize a homosexual on sight. This is similar to recognizing a Communist. The subject has a mental or emotional problem rather than a physical one. There is no way to spot a homosexual." As you can see from the exclusivistic language, homosexual men are the subject of this treatise, rather than the LGBTQ+ community at large (which, to be fair to the CIA, did not exist as such at the time). The reason is, I think, rather clear. Male homosexuals were viewed by the CIA as threats to the established order in the same way that the Nazis saw male homosexuals as a threat to the Third Reich (more on this in another post). Did you notice that the comparison term is 'communist' (again, this is 1980--nine years before the fall of the USSR). The implication is clear: both male homosexuals and communists are threats to the American way of life. But the CIA is clearly right about gays and communists in one respect. Neither come pre-packaged with 'gay' or 'communist' on their foreheads. The CIA notes that "very few employees come to work wearing eye makeup or 'My Sin'." Glad we cleared that up!

2. "The homosexual has a problem. He may not consider himself 'queer', he may accept his psychological deviation from the normal, but he recognizes that society frowns on him." The document goes on to say that a homosexual "often uses the word 'problem' in discussing his own homosexuality or that of one of his friends." But I think this is, again, the CIA putting words in other people's mouths. Let's be quite clear about one thing: the 'problem'  that a homosexual poses is a clear and very real threat to white patriarchy. As a gay man, I do not 'fit' the stereotype of the true 'masculine' man and so the entire order--in which women and people of colour are subjugated--is put into question. A gay man is, in one important sense, as much as a threat as a communist to the American white patriarchal order.

3. "The homosexual is usually regarded as an above-average employee. His work habits are good, he is punctual, responsive to authority, cooperative, friendly, a credit to the organization." You can see the problem right away. Gays work hard, get along with others, and make the organization look good. No wonder their fellow employees hate them! When I taught at Wheaton College, I was clearly the most popular philosophy department member and I also published more than all of my philosophy colleagues combined. I simply had to be eliminated. No good deed goes unpunished.

4. "But our subject leads a Jekyll-Hyde existence . . . . He frequently uses a Post Office Box . . . . His telephone number is often unlisted . . . . His car (preferably foreign) is often reserved for weekends." One could simply note that homosexuals were far ahead of the curve. Most smart people got unlisted phone numbers ages ago. 1980 was the nadir of the American auto--they were junk back then. But notice the subtle CIA inference: gays drive foreign cars because they're unAmerican. In any case, this may explain why my first car was a BMW and, since then, I've driven VWs. There are a lot of gays in Germany--maybe driving a German car makes you gay. It could also have something to do with the fact that I always drive stick.

5. "Our subject is intimately acquainted with a life totally unknown to society in general. He has his own language, his own social customs and mores." I have to say that I wonder what this "life totally unknown" might be. It sounds so exciting--please, Dorothy, take me there with you and Toto! Alas, I think this other life may be the product of CIA hallucination. But the CIA has some very helpful instructions for the 'secret' language of the homosexual. We're told that 'gay' "is the most common term in the deviate's vocabulary." What could 'gay' possibly mean? Fortunately, the CIA clears up any confusion: '"gay' means homosexual." Oh, how interesting! 'Gay' is "used to describe people, places, (favorite hangouts), parties, and groups." So it's a multi-purpose term. Now, here's where things get more complicated. 'Bi' means "interested equally in homosexual and heterosexual activities." 'Straight' is "the opposite of gay." The CIA agent, though, knows exactly how to use these terms in investigative research. We're told: "The question 'Are you gay, straight, or bi?' has been used with marked success in interviews of suspected homosexuals." How someone responds to the question will indicate if the person is a deviate. Really? That question doesn't sound all that promising.

6. Here's another sure-fire way to find out if someone is a homosexual: "One of the recently popular introductory remarks is 'Aren't you Jack from the North?' "The other party is supposed to answer 'No, I'm Joe (or any other name) from the North." So that explains why I'm gay: I'm Canadian! Does that mean I only actually became gay when I was living in Germany (!) and took the oath of allegiance to Canada? After all, I did pledge my allegiance to the Queen. Maybe I got mixed up regarding which queen that was supposed to be. Of course, the CIA document goes on to make things considerably more complicated: because it tells us that one can substitute any name for Joe and any direction for North. "The word 'North' (or South, East, West Coast, etc.) is the code word. It means homosexual." Here I think the average CIA agent might get confused. If I say, 'no, I'm Bruce from Scotland' rather than 'no, I'm Bruce from the North' will the agent still 'get it'?

7. Homosexuals "are abnormal mentally and emotionally; their behavior patterns are, therefore, completely abnormal and unpredictable." To 'illustrate', the CIA tell us that homosexuals do not "fall into distinct categories of male and female. . . . Many homosexuals fall into both categories. It is not uncommon for two extremely effeminate (or extremely masculine) homosexuals to participate in sex relations with each other." Perhaps we need to get Judith Butler in to give a talk to the CIA, but their examination of the categories of male and female need some work.

8. "Landlords often encourage rentals to homosexuals since they are neat, generally quiet, interested in keeping their apartments in good condition, and dependable when it comes to finances." What's interesting about this sentence is that it appears in a paragraph about why it is difficult to 'detect' and 'prosecute' homosexuals. Why would the CIA be investigating people who they describe as neat, quiet, tidy, and financially stable? Again, this is 1980. Pennsylvania banned sexual orientation in public sector employment in 1975; Wisconsin became the first state to ban sexual orientation discrimination in both public and private sectors in 1982. Today, only twenty-three (23) of the fifty (50) states ban such discrimination. Illinois is one of those states, which is why Wheaton needed to acuse me of not being able to sign the doctrinal statement rather than the real reason of my homosexuality. In those twenty-seven states, you can openly and explicitly fire someone for 'acting' gay or even 'suspecting' someone of being gay.

9. The CIA likes Socrates! "To detect [the homosexual] it is vital that the investigator be inquisitive." Such questions include: "Are all of his references women?" and "Does a male reference have the same address as the employee?" Talk about really shrewd and cunning questions! You can see why the CIA is so good at its job.


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