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MU advertising professor EK Johnston hosted parties for gay men in the 1940s off campus. In 1948, he was fired and criminally charged for being gay.

MU advertising professor EK Johnston hosted parties for gay men in the 1940s off campus. In 1948, he was fired and criminally charged for being gay.

University of Missouri Journalism School yearbook 1946.

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Show Me The State: The Gay Purge

In the 1940s and ‘50s, designated police officers and university administrators were on the lookout for gay students and faculty.

There are documented cases from the era where officials planted undercover officers in restrooms or set up peep holes and two-way mirrors to spy on men. They were looking for any suggestion of “gay activity.”

Because of the laws back then, many of the men who were caught were criminally charged and subjected to incarceration, conversion therapy or even electro shock therapy.

University administrators, including those at the University of Missouri, tried to root out the gay students and faculty members to expel them from campus. On record, the removals would often cite medical reasons for the departure.

While LGBT tolerance, acceptance and protection have improved on campus and in town, the scars still linger.

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