Playboy Fiction

Playboy Fiction

Playboy Fiction: The Crooked Man
Fiction

Playboy Fiction: The Crooked Man

This article originally appeared in the August 1955 issue of playboy magazine. In August 1955, playboy published sci-fi writer and famed Twilight Zone scribe Charles Beaumont’s The Crooked Man. Written in his twenties, Beaumont’s short story followed a man named Jesse who was forced to hide his heterosexuality in an alternate universe where all inhabitants were gay and straight relationships were criminalized. By the time the story reached playboy Editor in Chief Hugh Hefner, it had already been rejected by Esquire. One only has to consider the political climate at the time to understand why. In the wake of renewed patriotism after World War II and rising Cold War tensions, U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy drove his fear-fueled brand of nationalistic paranoia, dubbed McCarthyism, to its apex in the 1950s. It didn’t just trigger the Red Scare, but also the lesser known Lavender Scare, in which gay men and women in America, believed to be communist sympathizers, were actively…

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