Homintern was a term used from the 1930s onwards for a supposed conspiracy theory, which claimed that a large number of gay men in elite positions controlled the arts, scholarship and/or the theatre world, similar to the concept of a "gay mafia".
The word is a play on the word "Comintern," the short name of the Communist International and was used because it was believed that such homosexuals, being enemies of "traditional" values, were card-carrying Communist Party USA members as well.[a]
The earliest dated reference to the term seems to be from 1937, when the classical scholar Maurice Bowra referred to himself as a member of the Homintern. However, there are competing claims about who coined the term.[b][c][d][e]
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.
"Homintern" also appeared in a number of mass-circulation magazine articles during the 1960s. 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.
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. 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.
- See Association of Communism with homosexuality by anti-Communists and the Lavender scare
“ [1930s?] "The new literary fashion then in the ascendant dominated by what Jocelyn Brooke (himself homosexual, but detached from 'committed' writing) used to call The Homintern, was unsympathetic to me; at the same time the fourth novel on which I was now at work - to have the title Agents and Patients - did not entirely satisfy my own standards in breaking fresh ground."- Anthony Powell (1981) ” “ "The word 'Homintern', which I coined in 1939, is attributed to Auden, who used it in an article in the Parisian Review about 1941, and has passed into the language. A takeoff on Comintern (Communist International), it was meant to convey the idea of a global homosexual community." –Harold Norse (1989; correction: Auden's first articles in Parisian Review was in 1950) ” “ "A Playboy of the Western World: St. Oscar, the Homintern Martyr" - Title of a review by W. H. Auden of The Paradox of Oscar Wilde by George Woodcock, in Partisan Review, April 1950. ” “ "Anthony Powell suggested that his friend Jocelyn Brooke invented the term that Harold Nurse tells us Auden stole from him. Whoever invented it provided us with a splendid word to explain the social and cultural power of homosexuality." –Patrick Higgins (1993) ”
- Mike Wallace, "The Homosexuals" (1967). "Homosexuals are discriminated against in almost all fields of employment in all parts of the [United States]. But in the world of the creative arts, they receive equal treatment - indeed, some will say better treatment. There is even talk of a homosexual mafia in the arts, dominating various fields - theater, music, dance, fashion. In painting, there is the commonly expressed notion that the homosexual's influence has been corrupting."
- "Bowra, Sir (Cecil) Maurice (1898–1971)" by L. G. Mitchell, "Oxford Dictionary of National Biography"
- 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
- Harold Norse: Memoirs of a Bastard Angel, W. Morrow, 1989, ISBN 9780688067045, p. 77
- A Queer Reader, ed. Patrick Higgins, Fourth Estate (UK), 1993, p. 315
- 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.
- Michael S. Sherr (25 November 2007). "Gay Artists in Modern American Culture: An Imagined Conspiracy". The San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2008-01-23.
- 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.
- 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
- THOMAS MALLON (November 11, 2007). "The Homintern". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-08-05., by Thomas Mallon, book review of Gay Artists in Modern American Culture: An Imagined Conspiracy, New York Times Book Review, Sunday, 2007-11-11. Retrieved 2007-11-16.
- "They're here, queer, and art pioneers:, by Lisa Montanarelli, book review of Gay Artists in Modern American Culture: An Imagined Conspiracy, San Francisco Chronicle Book Review, Sunday, 2007-11-25. Retrieved 2007-11-26.