‘I chose the values I regarded as American’: Sexuality, ethnicity, and FBI informant Angela Calomiris

Twentieth Century Communism - ISSN 1758-6437
Volume 2021 Number 20 (2021)

‘I chose the values I regarded as American’: Sexuality, ethnicity, and FBI informant Angela Calomiris
Veronica A. Wilson, pages 109-135

Abstract

For personal or political reasons undocumented and controversial to this day, Greenwich Village lesbian photographer Angela Calomiris joined forces with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) during the Second World War to infiltrate the Communist Party of the United States (CPUSA). As Calomiris rose through CPUSA ranks in New York City, espionage efforts resulted in the Attorney General’s office declaring the avant-garde Film and Photo League to be a subversive communist organisation in 1947, and the conviction of communist leaders during the Smith Act trial two years later. Interestingly, despite J. Edgar Hoover’s indeterminate sexuality and well-documented harassment of gays and lesbians in public life, what mattered to him was not whether Calomiris adhered to heteronormativity, but that her ultimate sense of duty lay with the US government. This article demonstrates how this distinction helped Calomiris find personal satisfaction in defiance of patriarchal conservative expectations and heteronormative cold war gender roles. This article, which utilises FBI files, press coverage, some of Calomiris’s papers and her memoir, concludes with a brief discussion of Calomiris’s later life in Provincetown, Massachusetts, where she continued to craft her identity as a left-liberal feminist, with no mention of the service to the FBI or her role in fomenting the second Red Scare.

SORRY - you are not registered as being permitted online access to the full text of this article

You have the following options:

  1. If you are viewing this via an institution or academic library you can ask that your institution takes out a Subscription to this journal.
  2. If you already have a Personal Subscription please login below


    Forgotten your username / password? Click here to locate

  3. Purchase an annual Personal Subscription
    PRINT + DIGITAL personal subscription (£30 / year)
    DIGITAL personal subscription (£20 / year)
    A Personal Subscription provides immediate access not only to the single article you are seeking, but also to all past and future articles in this journal up to the expiry of your annual (calendar year) subscription.
  4. Purchase immediate access to this single article (UK£7.00) - Buy article Coming Soon

To cite this article
Veronica A. Wilson (2021) ‘I chose the values I regarded as American’: Sexuality, ethnicity, and FBI informant Angela Calomiris, Twentieth Century Communism, 2021(20), 109-135

Share this