In honor of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, we’ll be accepting submissions and suggestions all week for new requests to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for prominent figures in LGBTQ+ history. Each suggestion will be submitted free-of-charge and made publicly available.
A pioneer of the contemporary gay rights movement was forced to use an alias to protect his father’s career. Jack Nichols, Jr., co-founder of the Mattachine Society of Washington, conducted most of his activism under the pseudonym “Warren Adkins” at the request of his father, Jack Nichols Sr.. The senior Nichols was a Special Agent at the Federal Bureau of Investigations, and believed his son’s sexuality and related advocacy would bring serious career repercussions.
According to records released to Emma Best as part of the Freedom of LGBTQIA+ Information project, Special Agent Nichols was right.
Despite ample evidence of premeditation, public knowledge of political and personal clashes, and a taped confession, Dan White was charged with voluntary manslaughter after he assassinated San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk. Previously processed Federal Bureau of Investigation records released to Emma Best reveal details about White’s alleged antisemitism and homophobia, and lend credence to accusations that the State’s prosecution of White was performed with “reckless and wanton disregard of normal prosecutorial standards.”
In a 1995 executive order, President Bill Clinton declared that “No inference concerning standards [for government employment] may be raised solely on the basis of the sexual orientation of the employee.” Leading up to the decision, the Central Intelligence Agency and other agencies had a long history of discrimination against gay employees, viewing their homosexuality as a gateway to blackmail, extortion, and treason.
Last month, we launched our Protecting LGBTQ+ Youth from Conversion Therapy project, an attempt to use public records to learn more about the poorly-understood practice. But there are definite challenges to understanding the impact of conversion therapy in America, and we’re going to need help to get further into our investigation.