What does the history of sex look like without evidence of sexual identities or proof that sex acts occurred? And how might an analysis of gossip, rumors, and perhaps even lies about sex help us to write political history? These are the methodological and epistemological issues addressed by Claire Potter in this text, a real manifesto for a queer approach of American Political History. Based on the analysis of rumors spread about John Edgar Hoover’s private life, Claire Potter challenges historians on the use and the non-use of gossip for academic search and on what they could teach us about the representations of sexuality in American history. In the second part, she questions the classic FBI’s history, on what could be an history that overcomes the gender categories and adopts a queer approach on the subject.This article was published in the methodology section of the Journal of History of Sexuality in 2006. It was awarded the Audre Lord Best Paper Award by the Committee on Lesbian and Gay History, one of the committees of the American Historical Association.
Sex, Lies and Political HistoryBy Claire Potter