There really is a gay mafia -- or at least gay mobsters -- according to the following excerpt from the new book The Mafia and the Gays by Phillip Crawford Jr.:
There is a long history of wise guys sampling the merchandise from their gay bars, engaging in prison trysts in a curious phenomena known as situational homosexuality or otherwise just being an old-fashion friend of Dorothy. Historian Thaddeus Russell writes in his 2011 book A Renegade History of the United States that "many of the Mafiosi who managed the Stonewall and other gay clubs were themselves gay, and several had penchants for drag queens." For example, Russell writes:
The Stonewall Inn seems to have had more than the usual number of gay mobsters. According to historian Martin Duberman, a gangster-bouncer named "Petey," who worked various gay clubs, including the Stonewall, "had a thick Italian street accent, acted 'dumb,' and favored black shirts and ties." He was "the very picture of a Mafia mobster -- except for his habit of falling for patrons and coworkers." Petey was especially fond of an Italian drag queen named Desiree who frequented the Stonewall.
Russell also cites the example of "an enormous bouncer known as 'Big Bobby,' who worked the door at Tony Pastor's, a popular Mafia-run gay club at Sixth Avenue and MacDougal Street, carried on an open relationship with a Chinese drag queen named Tony Lee, who performed ballet at the club."
While some mobsters may have liked the drag queens, others were into underage boys. In his book Christopher and Gay: A Partisan's View of the Greenwich Village Homosexual Scene (1973), Wallace Hamilton writes:
I was also interested to note a considerable lavender streak running through the lower levels of -- of all things -- the Mafia, an organization I had been led to believe was given to firm hetero domesticity. But members of the Mafia had interests in various gay bars and soda joints around town, and an equally keen interest in some of the customers, who happened also to be guys who hung around my place. So I developed a rather strange interchange with Godfather types. It reached a climax of a sort one summer afternoon when some of my egghead neighbors were assembled outside the house. A long, sleek black Cadillac pulled up in front of the house with two white-on-white types in the front seat. Out of the back seat came one of my Cherished, duly delivered, and the Cadillac purred away. The expression on the neighbors’ faces was something to behold.
One reputed Bonanno soldier managed to outrun police for thirty years on a murder charge in New York until he was discovered living under another name in Pennsylvania where he was accused of raping a 12-year-old boy multiple times according to a Dec. 5, 2001 article ("Suspect Outlives Slay Rap") by Laura Italiano for the New York Post. In January 1971 Joseph Scudiero supposedly gunned down George Kelly, the son of a retired NYPD officer, at the after-hours gay bar Club Z on 400 West 14th Street, but after living 30 years as Joseph Monaco was unmasked with his 2001 arrest for child sex.
Homosexual sex was not uncommon for wise guys during a prison stint. For example, Joey Gallo once recounted how a poke in the pokey was "normal, natural and unremarkable" according to Donald Goddard's 1974 biography Joey about the beatnik mobster. And some mobsters were willing to rape those who did not willingly give it up. The FBI documents a 1958 incident when Salvatore "Midge Renault" Annunziato, the Genovese capo who ran the Hartford rackets, was incarcerated with several of his crew members at the New Haven County Jail, and they viciously beat an inmate unconscious who attempted to stop them from sexually assaulting a sixteen-year-old boy. According to the FBI's investigation corrupt jailers then gave the beaten inmate a 30-day good behavior credit for promising not to report the ugly incident.
There were many mobsters playing ball for the gay team. For example, New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani's cousin Lewis "Steve the Blond" D'Avanzo was a gay mobster according to former FBI agent George Moresco who said "we determined that Lewie had gone squishy [gay] in prison" according to a July 8, 2000 article ("Mayor's Mob Cousin Had A Gay Lover, Says G-Man") by Jack Newfield for the New York Post. D'Avanzo was an associate who ran various schemes with the Colombo and Gambino crime families, and suspected in multiple murders. Apparently his lover also was a partner in crime, and the pair allegedly were involved in a museum burglary. D'Avanzo was shot dead by the FBI in October 1977 when he attempted to run down an agent seeking to arrest him for his alleged role in a car theft ring. Another gay mobster was Gambino hit man Vito Arena from Roy DeMeo's crew. During a search of his home FBI agents discovered a photo of Arena doing the nasty with a boyfriend. Arena flipped for the FBI only to later resume the life, and in 1991 was shot dead during a botched robbery.
Of course, in the butch world of organized crime being gay had its risks. Former DeCavalcante boss John D'Amato was whacked in 1992 for being gay, and his killer Anthony Capo said "nobody's going to respect us if we have a gay homosexual boss sitting down discussing La Cosa Nostra business." Similarly, Lucchese associate Al Visconti was whacked in 1991, and although there apparently were multiple reasons for the hit boss Vittore "Jesse" Amuso thought Visconti was "a disgrace to the Lucchese family because he had a reputation of engaging in homosexual acts in prison" according to courtroom testimony from former capo Alphonse D'Arco.
Robert Mormando, a onetime Gambino hitman who "had a close personal friendship" with John Gotti's nephew Richard G. Gotti, came out of the closet only after entering the federal witness protection program according to an Oct. 20, 2009 article ("Telling Court He's Gay, Mob Informer Crosses Line") by Alan Feuer for The New York Times: "while there is no suggestion that the friendship was anything more than that, the mere fact that an avowed gay man was once 'inseparable' from a member of the Gottis is 'an intolerable stain on their name,' said the person who has knowledge of the case."
However, the mob may be evolving on gay issues. John Gotti's widow Victoria defended John Travolota to play the late Gambino boss in a planned biopic notwithstanding accusations that the actor made untoward advances against male masseurs according to a May 15, 2012 article ("Don't mess with John Travolta and his role as Dapper Don, says John Gotti's widow Victoria") by John Marzulli for the Daily News:
"What difference does it make if he were gay?" Victoria Gotti told the Daily News in an expletive-filled defense of the actor, who's been embroiled by a sex scandal for more than a week. "Who the f--k really cares? Does it make him less of a beautiful human being? No. . . . Leave him the f--k alone. Whatever the true story is, leave him with his dignity," she added. "In the grand scheme of things, it really does not matter."
Perhaps Victoria said it best.
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