Investigating obscure mysteries is often fun but not often rewarding. However, publishing information about one puts it out there and other armchair sleuths piggyback on the work you have laid out. That is just what happened with my July 17, 2019 investigation on the mysteries Allen Parsons, published in the South Florida Gay News. The statute of limitations on the case had run out and were no longer chargeable, but I still figured it would be a fun piece to read and thought it to be practically unsolvable after 40 years.
Parsons was the name of a young man from the Fort Lauderdale area whose house was raided by the Broward Sheriff’s office in 1960 when it was discovered he was running a mail order pornography business. At the time it was illegal in Florida to possess such publications. When officers raided Parsons’ place, they found he had a subscription base of about 5,000. A young male prostitute whom Parsons has photographed had tipped police off a few days prior.
Prior to this, Parsons was the typical all-American boy. He graduated from Fort Lauderdale High School with honors and received a scholarship to Stetson University. He was also the first teenager to address the Florida State Legislature during his time at Stetson University. Due to his prominence as a model citizen, his arrest was widely reported by local media at the time.
Parsons spent little time in jail and was released in 1963. He was arrested again in 1965 when two teenage boys ages 16 and 17 reported that he made unwanted sexual advances towards them. The media reported on the story again, but Parsons was found not guilty. After this, Parsons disappeared into history.
In Titusville around 1970 a man named Richard Thompson arrived. He became very active in politics in the area. Thompson was arrested due to voter fraud and his fingerprints matched Parsons. It was soon also revealed that Thompson was the man behind a popular gay pornography publisher called the Overstock Book Company. The publisher was under scrutiny due to its alleged use of photographing men who were under the age of 18, one of which stated he was a member of the Kennedy family.
After serving time in an Oklahoma prison for unrelated charges, Thompson was due back in Brevard County to serve time for his involvement in voter fraud and his pornography business, but he disappeared. The last publication located about him was in 1980 where Titusville Police chief said that he didn’t care that Parsons evaded them but hoped he would stay away from Brevard County, and that was the story.
In the midst of the pandemic, I received a message on Facebook from a young lady who claimed Parsons was her great uncle. She stated he died in a suspected homicide in Houston around February 1995 and went by the name Allen Patrick Bruce. The Fort Worth Star Telegram described Bruce as a self-employed businessman entangled in credit card fraud. He was 48 years old.
Photographs of Bruce in his family life were shared. The comparison to Parsons is unremarkable. She was researching how he came into her grandmother’s care and only recently learned more of his secret life. He was known by family to use the Parsons name from time to time. So, as it goes, mystery solved…sort of. We don’t know much about his time when he disappeared or what business dealings he had between 1980 and when he died 15 years later, but for now we will call this case closed.
This is a part of a special LGBTQ History Month project. View more stories by visiting outsfl.com/lgbtqhistorymonth.