Douglas M Charles. American Communist History. Volume 11, Issue 1. April 2012.
With the development of the Cold War in the late 1940s and 1950s, a conflict that pitted the Communist bloc against the democratic West involving potential nuclear devastation and fears of domestic subversion, there developed in the United States two closely related, and often conflated, but distinct public phenomena. The first began in 1947 when Republicans in the Congress expressed fears of homosexuals being employed by the State Department; people, they believed, who like drunks and adulterers could be blackmailed into betraying their country’s secrets and were therefore security risks. Thereafter, the public witch hunt and purge of homosexuals in government service and beyond—what has become known as the Lavender Scare—grew and expanded until its demise in the 1970s. The second phenomenon began in 1950 and focused on the issue of loyalty and the seeming threat posed by Communists in government service and beyond. This second event inaccurately has been dubbed McCarthyism, named for the junior senator from Wisconsin, Joseph McCarthy, who provided a convincing rationale for why Americans were seemingly losing the Cold War by the early 1950s—subversion—and who then took advantage of the limelight to advance his political career. The two witch hunts were (and still are) often conflated in the public and government minds at the time, and indeed had much in common, but they were in reality similar and parallel, but separate, witch hunts; or what the present author would call fraternal twins.
It is not surprising that the two were conflated in 1950, for in February of that year McCarthy had focused public scrutiny on the Communists-in-government issue with his infamous Wheeling speech about “205 known Communists” in the State Department. He later altered these numbers and singled out two of these as homosexuals, and never revisited the sexuality issue again. On top of this, moreover, was the case of Whittaker Chambers, the self-confessed former Soviet agent and homosexual who stood as the prime example of the conflation of the two. The issue and McCarthy’s charges prompted Deputy Undersecretary of State John Peurifoy publicly to deny that the State Department employed Communists but he also admitted that his department had dismissed 91 so-called “security risks”, by which he meant homosexuals. The phenomena that have come to be known as McCarthyism and the Lavender Scare, however and significantly, predated these public and popular mid-century witch hunts.
Officials of the FBI began a systematic, if separate and quiet, monitoring of both Communists and homosexuals dating from 1936 and 1937, respectively. In 1936, with the Second World War developing, President Franklin Roosevelt verbally authorized the FBI to monitor domestic Communist and Fascist movements to ascertain their impact on the “economic and political life of the country as a whole”. FBI Director Hoover used this broad directive to initiate a systematic and in-depth monitoring of Communists not for prosecution as criminals, but to acquire wide-ranging information about them through intelligence investigations. This was a watershed moment for the Bureau, as intelligence investigations against leftists continued, and never ended, from this point forward even as the Soviet Union became the ally of the United States during the Second World War.
The FBI also began its systematic collection of information about homosexuals dating from 1937, after the FBI director had declared child kidnappings a thing of the past—such as the famous Lindbergh kidnapping of 1932—but then he was forced to deal with the kidnapping and brutal murder of 10-year-old Charles Mattson in Tacoma, Washington. The event became a national cause celebre in the press, not only highlighting the erroneous, and now-embarrassing, comments of the FBI director, but prompting President Roosevelt, personally, to promise that the FBI would not stop until the perpetrator—who was believed to be a “degenerate”—was captured (he never was). Hoover, who was a conservative bureaucrat amid New Dealers, actively catered to the president’s political interests to retain his job. He initiated an all-out effort to find the murderer and focused on “sex offenders”, which at the time invariably meant homosexuals, who were popularly believed to prey on children. FBI officials even created a special “research” file on “sex offenders” in 1937 to assist them in their efforts. Thereafter, FBI agents would systematically collect information on homosexuals and this effort would only grow. During the Second World War, for example and foreshadowing the Cold War, homosexuality came to be regarded as a security risk—three examples of homosexual charges were those levelled against Undersecretary of State Sumner Welles, Senator David Walsh who was chairman of the powerful Senate Committee on Naval Affairs, and Philip Faymonville of the Lend-Lease mission at the US embassy in Moscow—leading FBI officials to create in 1942 a “sex perverts in government” file. FBI interest in homosexuals then culminated, not originated, in 1951, during the Lavender Scare, with the FBI’s creation of its massive Sex Deviates file, a file used to ensure the firing of gays from government and, later, non-government jobs by leaking specific information about them to trusted recipients. Moreover, FBI officials created the Sex Deviates file by combining their “sex offender” and “sex perverts in government” files into one massive file. FBI officials would use and maintain the file until its incineration in the late 1970s.
Therefore, while the Lavender Scare and McCarthyism seemed to have originated, developed, and existed concurrently in the 1950s, in reality they did not. They only received widespread public attention—in the form of what some have described as panics—when the two converged popularly at the same time in and around 1950. In terms of the FBI, at least, they were older, separate, and unique phenomena that only by the 1950s drew together to become very closely related events both involving concerns with subversiveness because gays and Communists exhibited similar traits in the popular American mind: gays and communists both kept their true identities hidden, both seemed to move around in a secretive underworld, both had a common sense of loyalty, both had their own publications and places to meet, both recruited members to their ranks, and people believed both were mentally abnormal. Feeding these perceptions, in part, were also contemporary perceptions of masculinity that helped to define “softness” towards Communism or intolerance of gays employed by the government all while the federal bureaucracy had consistently evolved, by mid-century, to target homosexuals in an exclusive way. Nevertheless, while some may have conflated Reds with Lavenders, to best understand the witch hunts, they need to be viewed separately even if they both held common traits. Indeed, as David Johnson points out, even some in the 1950s tried to educate the public about not conflating homosexuality with Communism, or, viewed another way the issues of security and loyalty. Similarly, Athan Theoharis has noted that in 1950, after McCarthy singled out one case of homosexuality, Democratic Senator Millard Tydings implored Republicans to “stop this continual heckling about homosexuals and let us get on with the main work of finding Communists”. But because the issue was a very popular and now-political one, coloured by bias in the unsophisticated public and political discourse of the time, and because the federal bureaucracy had long experience in targeting homosexuals, these efforts largely failed. One particular case exists, however, that illustrates the dichotomy between Communism and homosexuality and how the FBI—irrespective of public perceptions—viewed and targeted both. This FBI case is significant because it involved a man who pioneered the gay rights movement and who also happened to be a member of the Communist Party. His name was Harry Hay.
Hay is an excellent case study because as a Communist, FBI agents monitored closely his leftist activities prior to and after the advent of the Lavender Scare; and since he founded the first significant gay rights group, the Mattachine Society, FBI agents intensively investigated that group not once but twice after the advent of the Lavender Scare. What is remarkable about these FBI efforts, however, is that FBI officials never realized that Hay, the Communist threat, had founded the Mattachine Society, the seeming homosexual subversive threat. The question is therefore raised that if in the 1950s Communism and homosexuality were conflated in the public and government minds, why did FBI officials not link Hay—a man whom they regarded as such a threat that he was listed for emergency detention as a Communist—to homosexuality and his own gay rights group, which FBI officials specifically targeted in 1953 and 1956? Since the FBI’s interest in Hay as a Communist predates the advent of the Lavender Scare, this case is illustrative about how FBI officials viewed both Communism and homosexuality and suggests that while the two may have popularly been regarded in similar ways during the 1950s, with Communist and homosexual investigations sometimes walking a fine line, FBI officials, in fact, regarded and investigated the two separately. The FBI’s interest in Hay further alludes to the methods with which FBI agents investigated and collected information on both Communists and homosexuals, and raises questions about how efficacious these techniques were in national security cases whether involving Communists, gays, or both. What do these investigative tactics employed by FBI agents tell us about the “threat” of both Communists and homosexuals in the minds of FBI officials? And, finally, what does all of this and the FBI’s investigative interests and failures tell us about Harry Hay and the origins of the modern gay rights movement?
How and why the FBI acted as it did is a significant historical issue because there is a lacuna in the literature about the FBI and gays. For example, while the Lavender Scare has been documented well, the best book on the topic, David Johnson’s The Lavender Scare, all but overlooks the FBI’s central role. And while Johnson captures very well the public side, development and politics of the Lavender Scare, by overlooking the FBI he misses a significant aspect of it since the FBI was a leading investigator of presumed homosexuals and its efforts in that regard long predate the 1950s Lavender Scare itself. Similarly, and reflecting the lack of easily accessible information and sources about the FBI and gays, Marcia Gallo suggests in her history of the Daughters of Bilitis—the lesbian homophile group—that it was monitored by the FBI as part of the Bureau’s COINTELPRO effort. While FBI agents indeed investigated DoB, it was not via the FBI’s secretive and sensitive counterintelligence disruption programme. Robert Dean examines how America lurched towards the Vietnam War but examines the Lavender Scare and some State Department targets who were the subject of FBI investigations. He concluded that bucolic conservatives, including FBI officials, sought to undermine the elite eastern establishment in the State Department and they used gender and sexuality issues to achieve this. While the thesis may be compelling in regard to the confines of the 1950s, it is less so when taking into account the longer and broader history of the FBI’s targeting of gays which extended far beyond the State Department, power machinations and the eastern elite. The best examination of the FBI and gays, to date, is that offered by Athan Theoharis in his book Chasing Spies where he notes the FBI’s efforts to promote a politics of counterintelligence and morality during the early Cold War. He further illustrates examples of the FBI engaging in gay baiting and assisting in the purging of gays from government jobs because they were viewed as security risks and political liabilities given the bigoted assumptions of the time and the politics of the Lavender Scare. Yet his assessment is part of a larger study of the failure of the FBI in counterintelligence during the early Cold War. This article hopes to advance our understanding of the FBI’s role in the Lavender Scare, and how FBI officials viewed and investigated homosexuals within the overarching context of McCarthyism.
In Harry Hay’s case, there are several closely related reasons why the FBI did not realize Hay was both a Communist and gay rights advocate. These reasons do not stand as evidence of FBI incompetence. Rather they illustrate well the means by which FBI officials investigated both Communists and gays, investigative tactics that, first, relied heavily on informers who were not always fully in the know and, hence, FBI officials were not always in the know despite their inaccurate popular reputation as omniscient investigators. Second, they also illustrate the political focus of the FBI during the Hoover years when FBI officials looked more to a subject’s radical politics as an indicator of a threat than whether that subject actually was a true threat to American national security. Finally, among the reasons why FBI officials failed to link Hay to Mattachine were his own particular personality traits—not the least of which was his strict and personal sense of secrecy, including multiple uses of pseudonyms—and the way in which events involving Mattachine going public unfolded.
Harry Hay was born on 7 April 1912 in Worthing, England, to upper middle-class parents whose international work in mining made them wealthy. Travelling extensively, the Hays eventually settled in California where Harry, a young child, thereafter grew up. Because his mother was born in Arizona, and his father was a naturalized citizen from New Zealand, Hay was an American citizen—the issue of his citizenship would concern FBI officials at a later date. As a teenager, Hay began to realize he was homosexual and, while working on a family farm, the hired hands there introduced him to socialism. In both respects, Hay’s life thereafter would never be the same again. Harry went on to Stanford University and while there developed a fondness for acting but, due to a sudden illness, he was forced to drop out. He then moved to Los Angeles where he pursued drama, and his own sexuality, having affairs with various actors until one—Will Greer, who later and famously played Grandpa Walton on television—introduced him to the Communist Party. Hay thereafter, and increasingly, became an active party member. The party, however, was not tolerant of homosexuality and his Communist friends encouraged Hay to distance himself from it. Acceding to their advice, and still struggling with his own sexual identity, in 1938 he met a woman and fellow party member named Anita Platky and in that same year married her while also joining the party himself. That Hay married was an unsurprising development that many gay men of that era experienced, and when he later divorced his wife she commented to him, alluding to his disinterest in her: “You didn’t marry me — you married the Communist Party”.
Hay was not only consumed with leftist politics during his marriage to Anita, he was also coming to terms with his homosexuality and thinking about that along political lines. No doubt thanks to his interest in leftist politics and organizing, he began to think about organizing gays in 1948. He was involved in presidential politics, as a supporter of Henry Wallace’s progressive campaign for the White House, and resolved briefly with others over beer to form an openly gay group called “Bachelors for Wallace”. Hay then wrote up his ideas for the group, but in the following days his compatriots unsurprisingly developed cold feet and his idea remained just that—a fleeting idea.
Beyond politics in 1948, Hay pursued his other interests by teaching a music history class at the People’s Educational Center. Over subsequent years, he pondered his idea about a gay rights group until in 1950 he finally put his ideas onto paper and showed them to Bob Hull, a gay friend and fellow Communist who was a student in his music class. When Hull subsequently showed his former lover and now-roommate and fellow Communist Chuck Rowland what Hay had written, it excited the activist and organizer in Rowland. “My God, I could have written this myself!”, he blurted out. In short order, in November 1950 in the Silver Lake district of Los Angeles where Hay lived, the men all met to discuss the proposal, including Hay’s boyfriend—Rudi Gernreich—and Dale Jennings, a writer and activist who had dared to champion the cause of interned Japanese-Americans during the war. Over multiple meetings, the men refined their ideas, significantly modelling their organization on the Communist Party, of which at least three of them had been members. Part of that involved devising a theoretical basis to underpin the group because, as Rowland said, “[h]aving been a Communist, you’ve got to work with a theory”. Hay suggested basing it upon the idea that homosexuals were “an oppressed cultural minority”.
They decided to call their group the Mattachine Foundation. Hay came up with the name “Mattachine” from his historical studies of music and he derived it from an obscure Medieval French masque group called the Société Mattachine that, while performing in public, wore face masks which permitted them to satirize the French aristocracy without retribution—a brave act indeed given the ruthless and repressive tendencies of the French aristocracy. Hay believed the name aptly fit the position of homosexuals in the 1950s in that they had to remain hidden from open society for fear of retribution and attack. The Mattachine Foundation formalized its mission by 1951 and it included uniting gays both among themselves and with heterosexual society; to educate the public about homosexuality; and to engage in activist politics.
FBI agents first became aware of Harry Hay in mid-February 1943 when an informant, called “Source A” in FBI files, provided the Bureau’s Los Angeles field office with a letter Hay had written in 1938 to the chairman of the L.A. Communist Party’s membership committee. Hay’s letter was valuable to FBI agents—and to historians today, as it offers us previously unknown information about Hay’s past—because it provided details about his membership in the Communist Party. In the letter, Hay asked for readmission to the Communist Party of Los Angeles explaining that he had first joined it, using the pseudonym Karen Hunter, shortly after his 22nd birthday in the Spring of 1934. He explained that his initial membership and “allegiance” was “a purely emotional one”. He also explained that, at the time, the “Sunday School instruction for new members … was purely perfunctory”. Hay stated that his unit’s—in effect, his cell’s—policy was “one of shoving the new member into action out of which they hoped to God political development would eventually spring”. None of this appealed to the young Hay nor did the attitude of his fellow party members at that time, leading him to drop out and pursue his larger interests in drama with leftist theatre groups in Los Angeles. By 1938, however, these outside groups had all gone defunct, and so Hay wanted back in the Communist Party. But this time around, as he told the membership committee chairman, he wanted to use the pseudonym “Mac’h Eann”, which, Hay explained, was “one of the gaidhlic [sic] appendages of my own name, Harry Hay”. He also expressed a desire to be admitted into “one of the unexposed Studio units” of the Communist Party because he wanted to form “a Labor Front Theatre”. He hoped this would attract what he regarded as true party members and, he argued, in time, the inevitable result would be that “the jaded bourgeoise [sic] finds itself coming at least once for each play”.
An FBI agent in Los Angeles, after receiving this letter, investigated the lead and learned that Hay “was employed as a senior material planner by the Interstate Aircraft and Engineering Corporation” but had lost his job due to staffing issues. Moreover, upon further investigation, in which FBI agents obtained three photographs of Hay, the agent confirmed with “Source B” that the photos were “a true likeness” of the educational director of the Joe Hill Branch of the Communist Party in Los Angeles. Given the war-related work, this company was involved in, and since Hay apparently was an important Communist party member in L.A.—all despite the fact that the Soviet Union was an ally of the United States in the Second World War—explains the FBI’s interest here.
In August 1943, an FBI agent in New York City looked into Hay’s background after learning that he was once employed in that location before moving to Los Angeles. (After their marriage, the Hays moved to New York City until after the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941.) The agent consulted with Hay’s metropolitan draft board to learn more intimate details about him including the fact that Hay was being treated for secondary stage syphilis, information that seemingly confirmed to FBI agents his subversive nature since Communists were popularly regarded as having innately weak moral characters. Having a venereal disease would in some people’s minds confirm this; it probably also alluded to an assumption of psychological problems which some also believed to be behind one’s adherence to Communism (and homosexuality). The FBI agent also gleaned from draft records information about Hay’s educational background, his employment history, his marital status and his return to Los Angeles. With all of this information collected, FBI officials deemed Hay a threat and ordered his name placed in the bureau’s Custodial Detention Index. As an individual listed in this index, the Los Angeles field office was required to monitor Hay and continually update its information to reflect his current status and activities.
The Custodial Detention Index was created in September 1939 following the outbreak of the Second World War in Europe. FBI Director Hoover ordered his agents to identify, broadly, “persons of German, Italian, and Communist sympathies”. In the event the United States became involved in war, these individuals would, presumably, be detained as threats. The main problem with this index, however, was that the programme had no statutory backing and, therefore, FBI officials had no legal authority to detain anybody. But by June of 1940, after the fact of its creation, Hoover sought approval to create this index from Attorney General Robert Jackson. Jackson approved the index, basing its detention authority on a 1798 alien detention statute. When Jackson was replaced in 1941 by Francis Biddle, a man more concerned with civil liberties than his predecessor, he ordered Hoover to terminate the Custodial Detention programme. While Biddle was, in fact, willing to accede to the detention of foreign nationals in the United States, he was not willing to authorize the detention of Communists nor did he have any desire to prosecute American citizens who might be on the list. Hoover did not comply with the attorney general’s wishes, however. He retained the programme cleverly by renaming it the “Security Index”. Technically, then, Hoover obeyed his superior’s orders by ending the Custodial Detention programme but he only did so inasmuch as he re-labelled it. Hay’s name would continue to be listed for decades.
For the next 18 years, as a subject in the Custodial Detention Index, FBI agents kept tabs on Hay but particularly his activities within leftist and communist circles, reflecting the dominant concerns of the FBI at that time. FBI agents learned, for example that Hay had been transferred from the Joe Hill branch of the party to the Midtown Section and that he “was controlled though June, 1943”. That Hay was “controlled” was the Communist Party’s way of noting that Hay had paid his party dues through June of 1943. Hay was also reported to have “participated” in a labour rally led by labour leader William Z. Foster in Los Angeles on 18 July 1943. FBI agents also checked into Hay’s background, noting his immigration to the United States as a boy, as well as information about his parents, spouse and his various places of employment to that date, the facts of a NLRB complaint he had filed, and his credit background (he had none). Finally, the special agent in charge (SAC) of the FBI’s Los Angeles field office noted in a report that a 30-day mail cover—a surveillance method in which FBI agents take note of the addresses of incoming and outgoing mail—had been placed on Hay’s place of residence. FBI agents noted several pieces of mail (the names and addresses have been redacted in FBI files) including the fact that Hay had “regularly received” The Daily People’s World and In fact magazine.
By November 1945, FBI agents developed even more information about Hay. One means of confirming Hay’s current employment status and place of residence was an FBI agent telephoning him directly “through use of an appropriate pretext” on 26 October. Pretext interviews were ways in which FBI agents confirmed details about their targets without ever revealing either to the target or his employer that the caller worked for the FBI. The FBI agent learned from Hay, directly, that he worked as a machinist at the Salsburg Motor Company, which was the “successor corporation” to Hay’s previous employer, and he confirmed Hay’s home address.
FBI agents also learned further details about Hay from their informants dubbed Sources A and B. Source A related that Hay regularly attended the bimonthly meetings of the Echo Park Communist Political Association Club, and that he had been selected to be a delegate to the Southern California District Communist Political Association Convention. In 1944, amid the spirit of wartime unity, the Communist Party USA renamed itself the Communist Political Association by presenting itself not so much as a political party but as a political pressure group that worked to support leftist candidates in both the Democratic and Republican parties. From Source B, FBI agents learned that at the convention Hay did not play “an active role” but did attend all of the convention’s sessions.
By October 1948, FBI officials in Washington grew worried that the Los Angeles office was not keeping them up-to-date with information about Hay over the previous 3 years. FBI Director Hoover wrote the Los Angeles SAC noting the absence of regular reports on Hay—actually there was not an absence of reports but only one brief report reiterating his status as a naturalized citizen which was submitted in 1947—and informed him that, normally, while regular reports were not required “on Security Index card subjects unless the subject is also a top functionary”, he wanted regular reports on Hay. The basis of Hoover’s request was “the tense international situation at the present time”. Hoover was referencing the increased tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union during the presidency of Harry Truman as reflected in the Berlin Airlift, which had begun that summer just 4 months previous. Given these international realities, Hoover believed that Hay and his links to the “Communist Party and related groups” indicated that he and they were “considered a threat to the internal security” and therefore were worthy of more intense FBI scrutiny.
The Los Angeles SAC responded with a new report in February 1949 that detailed FBI agents’ increased monitoring of Hay’s activities. FBI agents confirmed, through informants, that as of May 1947, Hay was a member of the Communist Party and a member of the United Automobile Workers Union. Agents also learned at this point, again from an informant, that “during the latter part of 1946” Hay taught Marxism classes for the Communist Party, and that in 1947 he continued this activity but, this time, “in private homes”. Finally, the Los Angeles SAC reported that, among others, Hay had written the local US attorney to protest the fact that 10 local Communist Party “functionaries” had received government subpoenas.
FBI officials did not only collect information about Hay’s Communist Party activities from the field work of FBI agents. In July 1949, a member of Hay’s own family, who lived in Wisconsin, wrote the FBI while apparently staying at the Brown Palace Hotel in Denver, Colorado (the letter was written on that hotel’s stationary). The relative learned that Hay and his wife were Communists, and holding meetings at their home, and despite the fact that “blood is thicker than water” he or she believed “the security of the United States is more important to me than anything else”. This person, while noting that “the Communist Party is a legal organization” nevertheless believed “the activities of its members are against the best interests of the United States” and therefore offered the FBI Harry’s and Anita’s names.
FBI Director Hoover responded to Hay’s relative noting that he “appreciate[d] your writing to me as you have”, and he promised to give the letter “appropriate attention”. Even more, Hoover relayed to Hay’s relative the name of the FBI’s SAC at Milwaukee and asked the relative if he or she wanted to contact the FBI again to do so directly through this agent. Hoover then gave instructions to the Milwaukee SAC that any information he may receive in the future from this person should immediately be forwarded to the Los Angeles field office.
Over subsequent years, FBI agents kept careful note of changes in Hay’s life and would periodically update his now-Security Index card—the name of the index having been changed by this point—with his latest address or place of employment. The internal FBI document used for changing information on one’s Security Index card illustrates the political focus of FBI officials when keeping note of information about their targets. The form, which asked for work and home addresses, also asked for aliases, race, sex, whether the individual was native born, naturalized, or an alien. It also singled out the target’s political affiliation inasmuch as it specified Communist, Socialist Workers Party, Independent Socialist League, or “miscellaneous”. The form also contained two notations, specific to the FBI and in bureau jargon, that, by 1950, would involve Harry Hay. In November of that year, Hay’s Security Index card was “tabbed” for “COMSAB”, which was FBI parlance for a target subject who was employed by a company that held a government contract and, therefore, the subject was considered under suspicion as a potential saboteur. Communist sabotage—COMSAB—in other words. It was Hay’s political affiliation and job, then, that laid the basis for government detention of Hay, if need be, in the future. It should be noted, as well, that by 1950 Hay had left the Communist Party and formed Mattachine. Yet despite the FBI’s aggressive interest in his political affiliations and activism, there was nothing whatsoever mentioning this significant development in his FBI file that year (or Mattachine’s FBI file later). A significant reason for this was the FBI’s reliance on informers. Since Hay kept his gay and straight (i.e. Communist) worlds separate, the Bureau’s Communist informers—the FBI’s primary source of information on Hay—knew nothing of his gay organizing.
FBI officials’ ignorance of Hay’s sexuality and gay organizing is significant given what they knew about Hay’s fellow founding members of Mattachine, Chuck Rowland and Bob Hull. FBI officials knew that both men were Communists—and because of it they listed both men in the bureau’s Security Index—and they knew that both men were homosexuals, information that is, of course, reflected in both of their FBI files. But when FBI agents reported or noted that Rowland and Hull were gay, they did so only as an aside. The fact that they were homosexual was neither crucial information nor inextricably linked to their Communist Party activities. In fact, FBI agents mainly took note of the fact that the men were dismissed from the Communist Party because they were homosexual, recognizing that the Communist Party only looked on gays with disdain. And when FBI officials evaluated the men to decide whether to retain them in the Security Index, they decided to do so expressly for their Communist Party associations and not for being homosexual. No information about their sexuality, in fact, was even listed with the Security Index recommendations despite FBI officials knowing about it. What is more, FBI officials even linked Rowland and Hull, although tangentially, to Mattachine. In 1953, when Rowland and Hull lived together in a boarding house, FBI agents cultivated another boarder or the home owner as an informant. This woman reported to FBI agents that in Rowland’s and Hull’s room, she saw Mattachine letterhead, Mattachine literature, and copies of ONE magazine. Although ONE was, in fact, separate from Mattachine, at this juncture FBI officials believed ONE to be published by the Mattachine Society. But when it came to Hay, FBI agents knew nothing of his sexuality or gay organizing and, therefore, did not and could not report it.
The FBI’s investigative reliance on informers is significant because when in 1953 FBI agents began to investigate Hay’s homophile organization, the Mattachine, it again relied heavily on informers. FBI officials became concerned with Mattachine after Los Angeles Mirror reporter Paul Coats exposed the group when he published a story about it and questioned whether a “well-trained subversive” could influence them since gays were “a scorned part of the community” who banded together for “protection” and were “bad security risks”. As evidence, he cited the fact that the group’s lawyer, Fred Snider, was “an unfriendly witness at the Un-American Activities Committee Hearing”.
Thereafter, Mattachine fell under the Bureau’s COMINFIL programme, an investigative effort initiated by FBI officials to determine whether groups had been infiltrated and were under the influence of Communists. When relying on informers for information about Mattachine, FBI agents used those insurgent members from the San Francisco region who had an interest in proving that Mattachine was above board and free of subversives. These informers assured FBI officials that Mattachine was free of Communists (although these insurgents did not know about Hay since he remained secretive), but especially after they seized control of the group from its original founders (including Hay) shortly after the FBI began its COMINFIL investigation. Thereafter, with their own informers essentially in control of Mattachine, FBI officials were convinced that Mattachine was free of Communist influence.
By 1954, FBI officials became interested, again, in Hay’s citizenship because of “discrepancies in the information set forth in the files of the Los Angeles Office concerning the place of birth of subject’s father”. What concerned the Los Angeles office was that Hay had claimed “derivative United States citizenship as a result of his father’s naturalization in 1892, [but the] place of naturalization [was] not stated”. That FBI officials were concerned about this reflects the common belief that subversives were infiltrating from abroad, and also reflects a possible remedy if Hay was deemed a threat: deportation. The Los Angeles SAC, therefore, requested FBI headquarters to inquire with the Immigration and Naturalization Service about Hay’s father and his immigration status. Yet again, it should be noted, there was no reference as of 1954 about Hay and Mattachine in Hay’s FBI file despite the fact that since 1953 the FBI had begun its intensive, and in depth, investigation of Mattachine.
By April 1954, FBI officials had an answer about Hay’s father. The INS reported that it had no record of Hay’s father’s naturalization, but observed that its archive went no further back than 1906. The FBI was advised, therefore, that Hay’s father would have been naturalized in a court of law. The FBI’s Washington, DC, field office also reported that it was searching passport records for naturalization information because Hay’s father travelled extensively as a mining engineer.
By May, FBI agents discovered that Hay’s father—who was born in New Zealand—had, in fact, been naturalized in 1892 at Oakland, California. What is more, FBI agents observed that Hay’s mother was born in Fort Bowie, Arizona, but had then moved to England. FBI agents also noted the extensive travel habits of both of Hay’s parents. By July, FBI agents further learned that Hay was 4 years old when he entered the United States—having been born in England. By August, FBI agents had failed to find any further information on Hay’s immigration status in State Department records; they had also searched the FBI’s fingerprint file yet document redactions make it impossible to determine whose fingerprints, exactly, they were looking for. (It was either Hay’s or his father’s.) Finally, it was also during 1954 that, in addition to COMSAB, Hay was now tabbed for what FBI officials called “DETCOM”, or, detain as Communist. To reiterate, in the event of a national emergency Hay, and others like him, would therefore, and presumably, be detained by the government as a result of their political party affiliations.
By 1955, the FBI’s interest in Hay shifted, but, again, it never included information about Hay’s founding or ouster from the Mattachine Society. The context of this shift was the testimony offered by Stephen Wereb, an FBI informant, to the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) as it held hearings in San Diego investigating alleged Communist activities in the state of California. Wereb, who owned a typewriter service in Inglewood, California, was recruited by FBI agents to be an informant in the Communist Party and he was just that between October 1943 and the end of 1947. Wereb fell into this line of work after he had met an FBI agent at a social function and complained to him about his running across Communist literature during his various business travels. Once recruited, Wereb infiltrated the Los Angeles area Communist Party, took a Marxist training course, then became a functionary of the Party. He served variously as a local press director, treasurer and convention delegate.
At one point in his testimony, Wereb was asked if the Communist Party at any time during his infiltration openly advocated the use of violence or advocated revolution. Wereb replied in the affirmative, stating that in his Marxism classes his teachers noted that one day the Communist Party would do just this. Then he singled out two teachers, one of whom was Harry Hay. Wereb claimed that Hay had taught that the goal of Marxism and Leninism was to “overhaul” the election system of the United States to allow, for example, one member of the National Maritime Union to vote for the entire group—this was based on the fact that at any given time, one-third of union members were at sea. The problem, Wereb explained, was that the Communist Party would make sure that this one voting person was their “stooge”. Because this testimony was offered by an FBI informant, the San Diego SAC reported it to FBI Director Hoover and quoted and cited the testimony in the printed HUAC hearings.
Because Wereb had mentioned Hay’s name publicly in his HUAC testimony, and in relation to violence and revolution which suggested the possibility of a Smith Act violation, the Los Angeles SAC reported to the FBI director that Hay’s Security Index card was current and up to date. But my mid-June 1955, after FBI agents investigated Hay further to ascertain his current status—they learned that he still held a manufacturing job, was primarily involved in the dramatic division of the Hollywood Arts, Sciences and Professions Council (HASP), and had been subpoenaed to appear before HUAC in Los Angeles on 27 June—the SAC in Los Angeles recommended that Hay be removed from the Security Index since he no longer met the index’s criteria for listing.
That criteria, which was outlined in SAC Letter 55-30 (Hoover issued these letters to SACs to update them on current bureau rules and procedures), involved whether Hay had been a member of the Communist Party in the past 5 years—he had not—or had “acted in a leadership capacity in one or more front organizations which adhere to the policies and doctrines of a revolutionary group within the last three years”. Again, Hay had not. And even though by 1955 Hay had, in fact, been tabbed for both DETCOM—”Detain as Communist”—and COMSAB—”Communist Sabotage”—he also no longer met the requirements for those designations, as outlined in SAC Letter 55-12. For all of these reasons, the Los Angeles SAC recommended Hay’s removal from the Security Index. And on 28 June 1955, FBI officials authorized the removal of Hay’s name. He was formally removed from the index on 26 July 1955.
But things quickly changed for Hay vis-a-vis the Security Index just months later. On 2 July 1955, Hay, along with his lawyer Frank Pestana, testified before HUAC in Los Angeles. He testified that while he was born in England in 1912, because his parents were both citizens of the United States at the time of his birth, he was, in fact, an American citizen. He also testified that, for employment, he was a production control engineer who made burners and boilers. Hay was then asked by committee staffer Frank Tavenner whether he, Hay, had also worked as a teacher. With this seemingly innocuous question, Hay conferred with his lawyer and then declined to answer citing the First and Fifth Amendments. Asked if he had any music training, he similarly declined to answer. Asked if he had taught classes at the California Labor School, information about which Tavenner claimed the committee had discovered in its investigations, Hay declined to answer. Asked if he knew whether the Communist Party selected people to teach at that school, Hay declined to answer. Asked if the Communist Party instructed him to teach classes there, Hay declined to answer. Mr Tavenner then advised Hay that an undercover FBI informer named Stephen Wereb, who had infiltrated the county party, testified that Hay had been instructed by the Communist Party to teach classes at the Party’s Hawthorne Club. Hay responded: “I wish to state that I have neither opinions nor recollections to give to stoolpigeons and their buddies on this committee”. With that remark, Tavenner asked Hay if anything Wereb had said was untrue, but Hay declined to answer. Hay was also asked directly if he taught a class on Marxism, if he was or ever was a member of the Communist Party, and whether it was the Communist Party’s “plan” to deny membership before HUAC. To all of these questions Hay declined to answer.
Hay’s testimony was brief but fiery. But in later years, Hay explained that he believed the committee did not press him further, nor seek a contemp charge against him when he made his stoolpigeon remark, because he exuded what he called a “gay consciousness” with his impertinent and grandiloquent way of answering their questions. Hay believed that this prompted the committee chairman, uncomfortable with Hay, to dismiss him as a witness to maintain order given the laughter his answers sparked among those in the gallery.
In August of 1955, the Los Angeles SAC reported these details to Hoover. Six months later, the SAC wrote Hoover again, reiterating the details of his previous report on Hay, and advised the FBI director that Hay’s case had been reevaluated and he recommended, again, that Hay not be listed on the Security Index primarily because his activities were restricted to membership with HASP. The SAC also advised Hoover that “[n]o request for interview [of Hay] is being submitted at this time, inasmuch as it is believed that an attempt to interview HAY would be unavailing in view of his refusal to testify before HCUA [House Committee on Un-American Activities]”.
Upon receipt of this memorandum, however, an FBI official in Washington took note of a discrepancy in dates in an FBI report from February of the previous year in which an FBI informant reported that Hay was a member of the Los Angeles Communist Party “[a]s of early 1950”. Because this fell within the 5-year time span of the Security Index’s criteria (from when the Los Angeles office had originally removed Hay from the index), he asked that a form FD-122 be filed on Hay. This was the form used to place a person in the Security Index. On 16 March 1956, FBI Director Hoover consented and ordered the Los Angeles field office to handle the paperwork. The reason Hoover gave for Hay being re-listed in the Index was: “In view of Hay’s refusal to answer questions concerning Communist membership on the basis of the Fifth Amendment before the House Committee on Un-American Activities … plus his extensive subversive background”. By 5 April, Hay was back on the Security Index. Clearly, though, Hay was re-listed not because of any evidence that he was a genuine threat but because of his dramatic refusal to cooperate with HUAC. In other words, for political reasons.
Hay’s reappearance on the FBI’s Security Index in 1956 coincided with the FBI’s second intensive investigative effort targeting the Mattachine Society. In January of that year, FBI officials became aware of an article published in the homophile magazine ONE 2 months before that, in light of the Lavender Scare, raised the question of homosexuals being employed by, among other government agencies, the FBI. As one of the leading investigative bodies investigating and helping to purge gays from government, and no doubt due to rumours about J. Edgar Hoover’s own sexuality, FBI officials again targeted Mattachine and ONE—believing the two to be one and the same—in an effort to silence them both for ONE‘s controversial public claims and, significantly, not because the group was believed to be Communist led. FBI officials not only ordered another intensive investigation to unearth as much information as they could about Mattachine and ONE, but they took pains to develop obscenity cases against the two groups, who both were publishing magazines by 1956, in order to put both out of business (they failed). And, yet again, FBI agents never linked Hay to Mattachine, and no information exists about Hay in either his own FBI file or Mattachine’s—except for one notation of the name “Mrs. Henry Hay” on a Mattachine letter obtained from an informant; FBI agents checked into the name and unearthed nothing. That no information about Mattachine exists in Hay’s individual FBI file is significant, as FBI officials were interested in any and all information that would allude to the man’s “subversive” nature and being involved in a group seemingly slandering the FBI would certainly qualify in that regard. But Hay remained very secretive, had been out of Mattachine for over 3 years, and FBI sources inside Mattachine did not know who he was.
For the next 5 years, and irrespective of his homophile work, FBI agents worked to ascertain Hay’s activities in the Communist Party or sympathetic groups. Over May and June 1956, for example, FBI agents again made “pretext inquiries” with Hay’s employer—primarily via telephone calls in which the agents did not reveal their identities or purpose—to confirm Hay’s current home address and employment status. They also inquired with informants who reiterated Hay’s membership with HASP which, according to those agents, was the Southern California Chapter of the National Council of Arts, Sciences and Professions and, according to HUAC, was a “Communist front”. What’s more, these informants also relayed to FBI agents that in November 1955 Hay had sent “greetings” to John Howard Lawson, the radical playwright, screenwriter and Communist Party member who was one of the Hollywood Ten and spent time in jail, at a dinner held in his honour. This association concerned FBI agents because, from their perspective, Lawson was “an important figure in the CP’s organization in the Hollywood film industry”. At this same time, the Los Angeles SAC recommended on an administrative page keeping Hay on the Security Index “in view of his refusal to answer questions concerning CP membership” before HUAC.
Over this 5-year period FBI agents were unable to develop any information about Hay’s activities other than his place of employment, residence, and the fact that he had divorced his wife, Anita Platky. The information FBI officials maintained on Hay, however, was shared over this period out of the Los Angeles office with unspecified recipients in 1958 and 1959. The reason for the paucity of information on Hay over this period was the fact that he had left the Communist Party.
Given that over a 5-year period, Hay evidentially was no longer associating with the Communist Party (he also walked away, for the time being, from his homophile activities after the San Francisco insurgents seized control of Mattachine), and therefore he did not meet the criteria for being listed in the Security Index, in June 1961 the Los Angeles SAC wrote Hoover for permission to recruit Hay as an FBI informant. He noted to Hoover that if an initial interview with Hay went well, and if Hay was “cooperative”, his office would begin “to direct his activities” at a later date, and only after the completion of a “background investigation”. Hay seemed to be a good candidate for recruitment because the FBI’s long investigation revealed that he had no relatives “connected with the CP”—Hay had divorced his wife by this point and she, like Hay, was a Communist Party member—and because it seemed clear that Hay had not been “expelled or rejected from the CP” but had left the Party on his own volition. For these reasons, the SAC “desired to ascertain subject’s present attitude towards the CP and to also ascertain if he will cooperate with the FBI”. An FBI official noted on the SAC’s memo, for Hoover, that Hay had not been interviewed previously, but that he had been an uncooperative witness before HUAC. Hoover approved the SAC’s request.
On 4 August 1961, two FBI agents arrived at Hay’s home on Westwood Boulevard in Los Angeles to interview him. The agents began their interview by explaining to Hay that the FBI had jurisdiction “in security matters”. But Hay refused to allow the FBI agents to continue. According to the agents’ account, and perhaps reflecting Hay’s own self-styled “gay consciousness”, he “immediately stated that he had nothing to say and did not wish to talk to the FBI and terminated the interview”. Hay’s response is not surprising. As a long Communist Party member, he would have had an automatic distrust of the FBI. Hay even knew of the FBI’s interest in him, beyond the fact that an FBI informer had testified about him before HUAC. In 1948, after gaining employment at Leahy Manufacturing, a long-time friend of his advised Hay that FBI agents had inquired about him at his workplace and “knew all about you [Harry]”. In reality, Hay knew no details about the FBI’s monitoring of him or of Mattachine beyond suspicions but those suspicions were enough to colour his view of the FBI. Even though Hay refused to cooperate with the FBI as an informer, and contrary to the FBI’s reaction when he refused to cooperate with HUAC, the Los Angeles SAC recommended that due to Hay’s “lack of activity” in the Communist Party since 1950 or “CP front activity” in the past 5 years that he be removed from the Security Index. He was removed from it.
The question remains, however: why did FBI agents and officials completely miss that Hay was homosexual and had founded the Mattachine Society which, itself, was the subject of not one but two intensive FBI investigations? Indeed, the only obvious reference to Hay in the Mattachine FBI file is a notation of the name “Mrs. Henry Hay” that led FBI agents nowhere. Alternatively, Hay’s fellow founding members of Mattachine were, in one way or another, noted in the FBI’s file on the group. Moreover, FBI officials also knew that Hay’s fellow founders Chuck Rowland and Bob Hull were Communists and homosexuals and, like Hay, they were also listed in the bureau’s Security Index.
It seems there are five closely related reasons for the FBI’s investigative failure to connect Hay to Mattachine and these reasons inform our understanding of both the FBI’s interest in Communists and how, despite obvious commonalities, it was, in fact, unique from its interest in homosexuals. First, it largely had to do with the secretive cell structure Hay had set up for Mattachine, an organizational pattern based on the structure of the Communist Party, in which the founding members of the organization remained safely ensconced, and at a comfortable distance, in the anonymous so-called Fifth Order. Few people, but especially most members of Mattachine itself, knew who was running their organization. In fact, this was one reason that in 1953 Mattachine had an internal revolt leading to the ouster of Hay and his fellow founders because its members had no idea who had founded and was leading their group. Neither did FBI agents.
Second, Hay had a very secretive nature and a long history of using pseudonyms. This particular personality trait insulated him from FBI agents’ investigative efforts. By way of monitoring his leftist politics, the FBI knew about two of Hay’s pseudonyms—Karen Hunter and Mac’h Eann—but it appears that Hay’s simple employment of “Mrs” in his name with Mattachine stymied FBI agents who checked the name and found no damning information associated with it. FBI agents had similar trouble identifying other homophile activists at that time who employed pseudonyms, such as fellow Mattachine founder Chuck Rowland who used the pen name David Freeman to criticize the FBI in a magazine article. Despite their efforts, FBI agents never truly associated Rowland with the article. Further, Hay’s divorce from his wife, Anita, shortly after founding Mattachine also had no impact on the FBI’s information. By this point, Anita had become disenchanted with the Communist Party and, in the late 1940s, had left it. She knew of Hay’s homosexuality, and while some of Hay’s party friends also knew, and despite Hay experiencing ostracism from these friends after he left the Party, it does not necessarily follow that it was only his homosexuality that led to his alienation. Hay’s leaving the Party, in and of itself, would have generated negative feelings and led to his ostracism among his brethren, and, in any event, the FBI’s informers in the Party were clearly not knowledgeable of Hay’s homosexuality.
Third, the FBI began its investigation of Mattachine in 1953 when the group, itself, was experiencing an internal revolt where vociferous insurgent members from San Francisco sought to take control and make the group a more transparent organization. They succeeded and this development led Hay quietly to step away from his leadership role, leaving FBI agents to focus their investigative efforts upon the new leaders of Mattachine, many of whom also served as FBI informants but who did not necessarily know Hay. Therefore, FBI agents learned nothing of Hay.
Fourth, in its investigations of both Hay and Mattachine, FBI agents clearly relied, to a significant degree, on informers for their information. But since Hay remained a very secretive man there was, in reality, no one in either Mattachine—except for his fellow founders—or the Communist Party who knew that he was linked to Mattachine. So while some of his Communist Party compatriots willingly provided FBI agents with information about his Communist Party activities, these informers obviously knew nothing about his activities with Mattachine. Alternatively, the FBI’s informers among the Mattachine members—the San Francisco insurgents who forced the group to abandon its secrecy—did not know Hay so when they reported to their FBI handlers, the FBI therefore knew nothing of him. Even when he attempted to create his early and openly gay group that advocated for Henry Wallace, Bachelor’s for Wallace, Hay used the name Eann MacDonald, again insulating that effort from detection which, in any event, is irrespective of the fact that its existence was but for a fleeting moment. In fact, as Hay’s biographer has noted, Hay was very careful and pointedly kept his straight and gay worlds separate. An example of this is the fact that Hay never revealed publicly that his boyfriend, Rudi Gernreich, had helped him to found Mattachine until Rudi had died in 1985.
And fifth, and perhaps most significant, another explanation for the FBI’s failure to link Hay to Mattachine was the bureau’s near-obsession with leftist politics. While FBI officials were officially interested in real and viable threats to national security during the Hoover years, the reality is that FBI officials and agents more often directed their interests at the radical political views and activities of their selected targets rather than on any verifiable evidence of an actual or impending threat to national security. Hay’s file, in fact, is an example of this inasmuch as it seems to illustrate well that in their investigative efforts FBI officials and agents wore political blinders that allowed them to see only leftist and Communist political activity, which was not illegal and not viable evidence of a genuine national security threat, involving Hay. This is striking when it comes to Harry Hay because his interests primarily revolved around leftist theatre and dramatic groups, hardly something threatening to national security. This also held true with Rowland and Hull, who like Hay were listed in the FBI’s Security Index but only because of their politics. When FBI agents listed their rationale for listing all three men, never was their sexuality even mentioned, even when FBI agents were fully aware of it.
The larger context of the FBI’s interest in Hay informs us about the Bureau’s interest in both Communists and homosexuals. The FBI’s interest in homosexuals was not that they were one and the same with Communists, but that they could be blackmailed by Communists into betraying secrets or that groups of gays could come under the influence of “a well-trained subversive”. It is true that there were many presumed popular similarities between the seeming dual threats from both Communists and homosexuals, including that they both used pseudonyms, were secretive, had their own literature, and that both recruited members to their ranks. But these similarities are less built on reality than on prejudice, bias and stereotyping. Moreover, while some may have popularly, and politically, seen equivalence among Communists and homosexuals even going so far as to take advantage of this to advance political agendas, FBI agents investigated them in most instances separately and viewed the two as separate concerns. The fact that FBI officials recognized that the Communist Party looked on gays with disdain and purged them from its own ranks is an indication of this. Even more, as part of the Bureau’s COINTELPRO disruption programme, in 1960 FBI agents had planned to have local police arrest a “key figure” in the Communist Party in New York who was known to be homosexual. The arrest would then be publicized in order to “embarrass the Party”. Even though the plan never went forward—because the target had stopped working for the party—it illustrates the FBI’s awareness of the Communist Party’s homophobia and FBI officials’ desire to use homosexuals against the Communist Party; not that there was equivalence among them.
There were, however, similarities between homosexuals and Communists when it came to the FBI, and this had to do with how FBI agents investigated both. First, FBI officials began investigating both in systematic ways at about the same time: the mid-1930s. Communists were monitored in a systematic way because of domestic concerns about their influence over the “economic and political life of the country as a whole”, issues that involved the development of the Second World War. But FBI officials targeted homosexuals as a result of the development of a panic involving child kidnappings, and the resultant targeting of homosexuals due, in large measure, to stereotyping of gays and their presumed criminal predatory sexual interests. Both were regarded as public threats, but in unique ways. Second, FBI officials relied heavily on informants for information about both Communists and homosexuals. While the Communist Party USA was clearly penetrated deeply through FBI efforts, a significant problem when utilizing informers is the quality of their information. (As informers, for example, these individuals’ trustworthiness is already suspect.) Even still, when targeting Communists it was necessary for federal authorities to prove membership in a subversive group to win a prosecution in a Smith Act or McCarren Act case. This task was exceptionally difficult, and whereas Communists were targeted for reasons of loyalty, homosexuals were targeted for reasons of security (i.e. blackmail potential). When targeting homosexuals, moreover, FBI agents did not have to prove membership in any organizations, like Mattachine or ONE. Instead, all FBI agents had to do was to develop enough damning information—from informants—that would sufficiently cast doubt on whether an individual could retain his or her employment with the federal government. Given the widespread bias against homosexuality during the 1950s, it was easier for FBI agents to develop homosexuality cases than Communist cases for it was easier to identify a homosexual through stereotypes about their behaviour. And when doing this, the veracity of an informants’ information was not a top concern, as few would dare to reveal publicly or even challenge information about one’s sexuality in the 1950s whether or not true. The best example of this was arrests of gays for lewd behaviour in public. Few arrested individuals would dare challenge the charges levelled against them, so many willingly forfeited their bonds to avoid public embarrassment in a trial.
So while FBI officials targeted both Communists and homosexuals in the 1950s, they were not one and the same and simply viewing the two witch hunts as deeply intertwined because of overarching public perceptions misses their unique natures. Further illustrating this is the FBI’s own history. Prior to the Cold War, McCarthyism and the Lavender Scare, FBI agents targeted those whom they suspected of being homosexual. The best examples we know of are Sumner Welles, Senator David Walsh and Philip Fayemonville. In the Welles and Walsh cases, the issue was security and whether these individuals could be manipulated by the enemy given their powerful political positions. In neither case was Welles or Walsh suspected of being Communist. In the Fayemonville case, he was similarly seen as liable to manipulation in his position as Lend-Lease coordinator in Moscow, and while his colleagues suggested he may have been a Communist, that had little to do with his alleged sexuality than with a political power play among his embassy colleagues. The conflation of Communism and homosexuality was an early Cold War phenomenon and mainly a popular and political one.
So yes, there were many popular similarities about both Communists and homosexuals by the 1950s, and these traits were popularized in literature and taken advantage of in public by politicians or bureaucrats who had certain political or security agendas. But when it came to the FBI, the primary government body that investigated homosexuals and sought to prevent their employment to forestall blackmail or avoid political embarrassment, FBI officials in the secret side of the Lavender Scare investigated both separately. And, in fact, it is more instructive for us today to view the two witch hunts not as a phenomena deeply intermixed with McCarthyism and originating at that time (they did not), but something unique, different, and older, albeit closely related.