Gay Mafia

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The Gay Mafia, Velvet Mafia, gay lobby, etc. are pejorative terms for the alleged disproportional behind-the-scene influence of gay rights groups and the LGBT community in politics, media, culture, and everyday life.[1]

An early use of the term was when the English critic Kenneth Tynan proposed an article to Playboy editor A.C. Spectorsky in late 1967 on the "Homosexual Mafia" in the arts.[2] Spectorsky declined, although he admitted that "culture hounds were paying homage to faggotismo as they have never done before". Playboy would run a panel on gay issues in April 1971.

The term "Velvet Mafia" was first used in an article in the "Top of the Pop" column in the entertainment section of the Sunday New York Daily News in the 1970s by journalist Steven Gaines to describe the executives at the Robert Stigwood Organization, a British film and record company. The phrase was later used by the same writer in a roman à clef about Studio 54 called The Club in reference to the influential gay crowd that became the club's habitués. This "mafia" included Calvin Klein, Truman Capote, Halston, and Andy Warhol. The term was tongue-in-cheek, describing a powerful social clique, not some truly devious alliance ruling either an industry or politics.[citation needed]

"Gay Mafia" was widely used in the media in the 1980s and 1990s, and could be seen in the pages of the New York Post. The term was also used by the British newspaper The Sun in 1998 in response to what it claimed was an over-representation of gay people in the Labour Party Cabinet.[3][4][5][6]

Gradually, velvet came to be replaced with gay. The term may have gained wider social prominence after it was used in a 1995 Spy article and a 2002 Vanity Fair article, wherein Michael Ovitz, in an interview,[7] stated that a "gay mafia" was largely responsible for his company's failures.[8]

More recently, comedian and TV host Bill Maher claimed: "I think there is a gay mafia. I think if you cross them, you do get whacked. I really do."[9]

The Lavender Mafia has also been used to refer to an informal network of gay executives in the entertainment industry.[10]

Lavender Mafia has also been used to refer to a supposed faction within the leadership and clergy of the Roman Catholic Church that allegedly advocates the acceptance of homosexuality within the Church and its culture.[11] In 2013 Pope Francis claimed there was a "gay lobby" within the Vatican in remarks during a meeting held in private with some of the Catholic religious from Latin America, and he was said to have promised to see what could be done to address the issue.[12] In July 2013, he responded directly to journalists' questions. He notably drew a distinction between the problem of lobbying and the sexual orientation of people: "If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?" "The problem", he said, "is not having this orientation. We must be brothers. The problem is lobbying by this orientation, or lobbies of greedy people, political lobbies, Masonic lobbies, so many lobbies. This is the worse problem."[13][14]


Homintern was a reference to a global community of homosexuals with common interests.[15][16] The term Homintern was used by anti-Communist American Senator Joe McCarthy during the McCarthyist lavender scare, who used it to claim that the administrations of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman, which was set on destroying America from within.[17] During the times of Lavender scare in the United States, attempts were made to link Communism and homosexuality, and the term "Homintern" was a derogatory appellation to the allegedly subversive nature of this community.

The word is a play on the word "Comintern," the short name of the Communist International.[18][15]

An early written reference to the term is from 1937, when the classical scholar Maurice Bowra referred to himself as a member of the Homintern.[19] However, there are competing claims about who coined the term.[a][b][c][d]

Michael S. Sherry used the term hominterm discourse "for the untidy bundle of ideas and accusations about the gay creative presence".[23]

Homintern also appeared in a number of mass-circulation magazine articles during the 1960s.[18] These magazine articles were often illustrated with the color lavender and the Homintern was sometimes called "the lavender conspiracy." It was claimed that there was a secret worldwide network of gay art gallery owners, ballet directors, movie producers, record label executives, and photographers who, behind the scenes, determined who would become successful artists, dancers, actors, and models.[citation needed]

The term Homintern was used in articles even in liberal magazines such as Ramparts, which in 1966 published an article by Gene Marine about the Homintern. It was frequently used in the conservative magazine National Review.[citation needed] William F. Buckley, Jr. sometimes warned of the machinations of the Homintern on his TV talk show Firing Line. It was believed by some conservatives that the Homintern deliberately manipulated the culture to encourage homosexuality by promoting camp programs such as the popular 1960s TV series Batman.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^


  1. ^ J. Bryan Lowder. "Gay mafia: Why are conservatives afraid of LGBTQ activists?". Slate Magazine. Retrieved 29 December 2014. 
  2. ^ Kenneth Tynan Letters (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1994)
  3. ^ "'Sun' rejects outing and sacks Parris sacks Parris and rejects outing". The Independent. Retrieved 29 December 2014. 
  4. ^ "BBC News - UK - Sun changes mind over gays". Retrieved 29 December 2014. 
  5. ^ "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 07 Apr 2010 (pt 0001)". Retrieved 29 December 2014. 
  6. ^ "A 'Gay Mafia' in Whitehall? Sex Is Back in the Headlines in Britain". 11 November 1998. Retrieved 29 December 2014. 
  7. ^ Burrough, Bryan (August 2002). "Ovitz Agonistes". Vanity Fair. 
  8. ^ Lyman, Rick (July 3, 2002). "Ovitz Bitterly Bares Soul, And Film Industry Reacts". The New York Times. 
  9. ^ "Maher: "There Is A Gay Mafia -- If You Cross Them, You Do Get Whacked"". RealClearPolitics. April 4, 2014. 
  10. ^ George De Stefano, An offer we can't refuse: the mafia in the mind of America, New York, 2005, Retrieved 29 December 2014
  11. ^ Gould, Peter (2005-11-28). "Vatican fuels gay clergy debate". BBC News. Retrieved 2007-08-08.
  12. ^ "Pope Francis 'confirms Vatican gay lobby and corruption'". BBC News. 12 June 2013. Retrieved 27 August 2013. 
  13. ^ Lizzie Davis (29 July 2013). "Pope Francis signals openness towards gay priests". The Guardian. 
  14. ^ "Pope Francis: Who am I to judge gay people?". BBC News. 29 July 2013. Retrieved 27 August 2013. 
  15. ^ a b "From Auden to Wilde: a roll call of gay talent"
  16. ^ Gregory Woods, Homintern: How Gay Culture Liberated the Modern World
  17. ^ Blumenthal, Max (13 Jul 2010). Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement that Shattered the Party (reprint ed.). Nation Books. p. 205. ISBN 9781568584171. Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  18. ^ a b "A review of "Gay Artists in Modern American Culture An Imagined Conspiracy" by Michael S. Sherry". The San Francisco Chronicle. 25 November 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-23. 
  19. ^ "Bowra, Sir (Cecil) Maurice (1898–1971)" by L. G. Mitchell, "Oxford Dictionary of National Biography"
  20. ^ Anthony Powell, Faces in My Time, Vol. 3 of To Keep the Ball Rolling: Memoirs by Anthony Powell), Holt, Rinehart and Winston 1981, ISBN 9780030210013, no page
    Anthony Powell: To Keep the Ball Rolling: The Memoirs of Anthony Powell (new edition, abridged), University of Chicago Press, 2001, ISBN 9780226677217, p. 221
  21. ^ Harold Norse: Memoirs of a Bastard Angel, W. Morrow, 1989, ISBN 9780688067045, p. 77
  22. ^ A Queer Reader, ed. Patrick Higgins, Fourth Estate (UK), 1993, p. 315
  23. ^ Sherry, Michael S. (2007). Gay Artists in Modern American Culture: An Imagined Conspiracy. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 0-8078-3121-2. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Woods, Gregory (May 2003). "The 'Conspiracy' of the 'Homintern'". The Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide. 10 (3). Retrieved 2009-03-28. [dead link]
  • Engel, Randy, The Rite of Sodomy: Homosexuality and the Roman Catholic Church, New Engel Publishing, Export-PA, 2006 ISBN 0-9778601-3-2
  • Woods, Gregory, Homintern: How Gay Culture Liberated the Modern World, Yale University Press, 2016

External links[edit]