THE BOYS OF BOISE
With a population of about 45,000 in Boise in the year of 1955, “The Boys of Boise” homosexuality scandal was sure to ignite a significant public reaction and to serve as a piece of Boise history never to be forgotten. However, at the present, the 1955 scandal is a significant piece of our local history that few Boiseans know much about. What really happened in this homosexual sex scandal in 1955? Why is it a piece of Boise’s past that tends to be forgotten?
On November 3, 1955, the current issue of The Idaho Statesman was published with a marked concern regarding Boise’s culture. Pointing a certain recognition that something perverse was indeed happening, the Statesman said after three arrests had been made that “these arrests mark only the start of an investigation that has only ‘scratched the surface’”. The article failed to make considerable specific references to whatever event’s surface had only been touched, but the article certainly set off a widespread public alarm to such evils that had been happening right underneath the consciousness of the public.
Boise, such a prosperous middle-class city as it was in 1955, was hardly a place where one would suspect nearly 20 middle-aged “white collar” men would be convicted for homosexual activities with nearly 100 minors. When news of the scandal made it’s way through the headlines, it became clear that the boys had sold sexual favors to the older men for money; money that was then typically put into fixing up the boys’ cars.
As to be expected in a relatively remote city in the mid-1950s, Boise was indeed somewhat of a conservative society. Continuing to provide coverage to the scandal, on November 20th, 1955, The Idaho Statesman published an article that stated that “Homosexuals must be sought out before they do more damage to youth, either by investigation of their past records or by appeal to their unbalanced minds,” thereby dismissing homosexuality as a treatable mental illness.
This event proceeded to rattle the attention of the public in Boise, causing widespread fear and paranoia that no one could be trusted. The story even went on to make national news and was published in a 1955 Time Magazine article entitled the “Idaho Underworld.” Such a story brought Boise into the national limelight. However, was this the reputation that Boiseans sought to portray to the rest of America?
Obviously, this was not an event that the population of Boise was proud of at the time of all the happenings. Undoubtedly, Boise has become more liberal since the homosexuality scandal of 1955, but it’s highly intriguing that most young Boiseans are absolutely unaware that such a scandal ever took place in our city’s history. Could it possibly be that Boiseans are still recovering from such an event?