You Couldn't be Gay In Washington, D.C., Ryan Field Books

You Couldn’t Be Gay In Washington, DC 


In the not-so-distant past, the worst and most unforgiving thing in Washington, DC was to be Gay. If anyone found out you were gay your life was basically over. You would disappear and never be seen again. In those days, you could be Black, Asian, a Woman, or any other marginalized group. But you could not be gay. 

But there were many gay people in Washington. John F. Kennedy’s lifelong best friend, Lem Billings, was gay but never actually came out. He spent a good deal of time in the White House with JFK but even to this day you rarely even hear about Lem Billings. Allegedly, Lem was in love with JFK and everyone in the Kennedy family accepted him without any questions. I posted about Billings, here.  President Kennedy knew Lem was gay and he didn’t seem to care. 

And now there’s a new non-fiction book out titled, Secret City: The Hidden History of Gay Washington by James Kirchick. The article I’m linking to now discusses a man named Bob Waldron who was an aide for Lyndon Johnson. In fact, Johnson had another gay aide named Walter Jenkins and I also posted about him before.  Apparently, both Waldron and Jenkins wound up in trouble for being gay. 

But just as Waldron was about to fulfill a lifelong ambition to work for the president of the United States, forces beyond his control were preparing to ensure that he would be prevented from doing so.


Here’s more. It sounds like an interesting book loaded with gay history. 

And here is another link to the Mattachine Society of Washington, D. C. that discusses Lyndon Johnson’s “Pink Purge.” I’ve posted about the Mattachine Society, here. It’s one of the earliest gay rights associations in the US. 


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