The Washington edition makes the following claim:
“Black Washington has its share of deviates, too.
During the summer, groups of colored fairies make up "yachting" parties and cruise the Potomac on the steamer Robert E. Lee. One Saturday night, last summer, over 100 cops were dispatched to the docks when the "Society of Female Impersonators" was to have a midnight sail. They found one thousand seven hundred Negro men, all dressed as women, on the boat, and as many more trying to get on. A riot was in the making, but the cops busted it up and kept it quiet when they hauled away two wagon loads. The ship finally got off at 2 A.M. . . .”1,700 on the boat, and as many more trying to get on!!!
I can find no confirmation of this anecdote in GLBT histories of Washington. I am inclined to reject the tale as a fabulation based on the improbable large numbers alone.
Confederate General. There was a steamship with that name. But it sailed on the Mississippi, not on the Potomac.
The practice of cops seizing a random sample at a a gay event, and then leaving, was actually a common practice.
- Passage cited on page 277 in Neil Miller. Out of the Past: Gay and Lesbian History from 1869 to the Present. New York: Vintage Books, 1995.