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Orgies, Lies, and Presidents: The Secret Gay Cabal of Washington

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Secret City: The Hidden History of Gay Washington by James Kirchick provides an in-depth and exhaustively researched account of the underground world of primarily white gay men through presidential administrations from Franklin Roosevelt’s to Bill Clinton’s.

Kirchick’s focus is primarily white gay men since they were predominant during the racist, misogynistic era he covers.“I do talk about lesbians, but women had very little political power during the Cold War era,” Kirchick points out. “It was all about white men, and women didn’t have security clearances — therefore that didn’t put them on the FBI’s radar.”Moreover, gay male sexuality was much more policed, particularly by the FBI, he explains. “Unlike gay men, women weren’t having sex in public places, and gay bars were far more likely to get raided than a lesbian bar,” he says. “There were so many more who identified as gay men than there were women who identified as lesbians.

I do talk about President Carter adviser Midge Costanza, but it was only confirmed that she was a closet lesbian after she died.

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