Search International Institute website.

McCarthyite in Camelot: The “Loss” of Cuba, Homophobia,and the Otto Otepka Scandal in the Kennedy State Department

By Eric Paul Roorda, Professor of History and Political Science, Bellarmine University, and Co-Director, Frank C. Munson Institute of American Maritime Studies, Mystic Seaport. He is the author of The Dictator Next Door: The Good Neighbor Policy and the Trujillo Regime in the Dominican Republic, Duke University Press, 1998, winner of the Herbert Hoover Book Award and the Stuart L. Bernath Book Prize from the Association of Social Historians and American Foreign Policy; and Cuba, America and the Sea, 2006.

Monday, May 21, 2007
12:00 PM - 1:30 PM
Rolfe Hall 4302 (Lydeen Library)
Los Angeles, CA 90095

Otepka was the chief of the State Department Office of Internal Security, which was the creation of the anti-communist Senate Internal Security Subcommittee (SISS).  In 1961, Kennedy tried to gain control over the State Department security program, and ended up firing Otepka, which caused a scandal and Senate hearings.  The dispute demonstrates the bureaucratic struggles fought between the legislative and executive branches to control United States foreign policy.  This study examines the homophobic assumptions of the senators on the SISS, their staff, and various newspapers and magazines around the country.  These critics equated the culture of the Foreign Service with homosexuality, and homosexuality with Communism.  The analysis also emphasizes the social setting of Havana between the 1930s and the 1950s as a determining factor in shaping the attitudes and personal actions of the most prominent figures in the SISS “loss” of Cuba hearings, which triggered the Otepka scandal.

Cost : Free and open to the public

Robin Derby

Sponsor(s): Latin American Institute, LAI's Working Group Ethnicity and Difference, the American History Colloquium, and the LGBT Studies Program.

Search International Institute website.