One of the most infamous hateful racist homophobes and general misanthropes Charley Eugene Johns died on this date and was rendered incapable of harming others (b. 1905). Johns was an American politician and the thirty-second governor of Florida from 1953 to 1955.
Why cover Johns in a daily list of Gay Wisdom? Because most of us don’t know this history and it’s important to know what happened so it doesn’t happen again. (We won’t honor their birth date but we’ll mark their date of departure.)
Johns is most remembered for his support and chairmanship of the infamous Florida Legislative Investigation Committee, nicknamed the “Johns Committee” because of Johns’ chairmanship. This committee participated in the Red Scare and Lavender scare by investigating communists, homosexuals, and civil rights advocates among the students and faculty of Florida’s university system. They were responsible for revoking teachers’ certificates and firing university professors. By 1963, the committee had forced the dismissal or resignation of over 100 professors and deans at the University of Florida, Florida State University and the University of South Florida. One professor attempted suicide after being investigated by the committee.
The state legislature ended funding for the committee in 1964 after it released a report called Homosexuality and Citizenship in Florida, which infamously became known as the “Purple Pamphlet”. Its many photographs depicting homosexual acts outraged legislators and reportedly copies of the report were being sold as pornography in New York City. The Johns Committee lost its funding from the legislature following the publication of the Purple Pamphlet.
In 2005, UF Today, an alumni publication of the University of Florida, included Johns in a list of 81 “outstanding” UF alumni. Johns attended UF only for a few months and did not graduate. The editor apologized for the error, and the alumni association said that including him was a mistake.