The Lavender Scare The Cold War Persecution of Gays and

The Lavender Scare The Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Government ❰PDF / Epub❯ ☃ The Lavender Scare The Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Government Author David K. Johnson – The McCarthy era is generally considered the worst period of political repression in recent American history But while the famous uestion Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Pa The McCarthy era is generally considered Scare The PDF/EPUB ê the worst period of political repression in recent American history But while the famous uestion Are you now or The Lavender PDF \ have you ever been a member of the Communist Party resonated in the halls of Congress security officials were posing another uestion at least as freuently Lavender Scare The ePUB ☆ if discreetly Information has come to the attention of the Civil Service Commission that you are a homosexual What comment do you care to makeHistorian David Lavender Scare The Cold War Kindle - K Johnson here Lavender Scare The Cold War Kindle - relates the frightening untold story of how during the Cold War homosexuals were considered as dangerous a threat to national security as Communists Charges that the Roosevelt and Truman administrations were havens for homosexuals proved a potent political weapon sparking a Lavender Scare vehement and long lasting than McCarthy's Red Scare Relying on newly declassified documents years of research in the records of the National Archives and the FBI and interviews with former civil servants Johnson recreates the vibrant gay subculture that flourished in New Deal era Washington and takes us inside the security interrogation rooms where thousands of Americans were uestioned about their sex lives The homosexual purges ended promising careers ruined lives and pushed many to suicide But as Johnson also shows the purges brought victims together to protest their treatment helping launch a new civil rights struggle The Lavender Scare shatters the myth that homosexuality has only recently become a national political issue changing the way we think about both the McCarthy era and the origins of the gay rights movement And perhaps just as importantly this book is a cautionary tale reminding us of how acts taken by the government in the name of national security during the Cold War resulted in the infringement of the civil liberties of thousands of Americans.

10 thoughts on “The Lavender Scare The Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Government

  1. Alok Vaid-Menon Alok Vaid-Menon says:

    We must contextualize the Trump administration’s targeting of trans people within the history of state sanctioned scapegoating of ueer people and political subterfuge “The Lavender Scare” refers to a moral panic in the mid 20th century when gay men and lesbians were deemed a national security risk This led to the firing of gay employees the rampant criminalization of gay communities as well as countless suicides In 1953 President Eisenhower signed Executive Order 10450 which barred gay people from working in the federal government leading to thousands of people losing their jobs and being forcibly outed Literature was created on how to identify homosexuals who were uniformly labeled as “sexual perverts” This gave license to police as part of the “Pervert Elimination Campaign” to go undercover to catch people in cruising zones and gay bars Kenneth Wherry a Republican senator said “Can you think of a person who could be dangerous to the United States of America than a pervert?” This witch hunt relied on homophobic character assassination officials asserted that because gays were “gregarious” they were “susceptible to blackmail” They would refer to “nests” of homosexuals hiding in the US government Gay people were discussed as a collectivity never an individual the “homosexual cliue” “these gentlemen” Officials maintained that gay people were emotionally unstable selfish and pathological in their desires The police perpetuated the homophobic narrative that homosexuality was a learned behavior and justified their moral crusade in the name of protecting youth and the American public from perversionIn this moment of hyper nationalism an antagonistic attitude of “either you’re with us or against us” became enforced Not just a “Communist” or “American” but also a “heterosexual” or a “homosexual” State politics were enmeshed with intimate lives Prior to this moment gender non conforming “fairies” were seen as the “true sexual deviant” because of their “conscious inversion of gender norms” But in this juncture of history gender conforming gays and lesbians were likened to them because of their sexual activity Homosexual activity which had not been as vehemently scorned previously became seen as a marker of degeneracy This is because as Johnson argues “monogamous heterosexual marriages were seen as a key weapon in the arsenal against internal subversion” Diplomats were already wary of being framed to the public as “ineffectual and unmanly” from pursuing negotiation rather than war Excising the homosexuals was a recuperative gesture to maintain masculine power In response to this persecution many middle class gay people attempted to differentiate themselves from gender non conforming people who were part of nightlife They referred to these ueers as “contrived” “exaggerated” “campy” and wanted to hold on to respectability to protect their jobs Some gays and lesbians pretended to be straight together Some came out and joined the emerging gay liberation movementWhat we learn from this history is that the federal government fortifies gender norms during times of political instability as a policing tactic to foster division and evade culpability ueers become seen as responsible for the ills of society not the administration We have to learn from history and come together to support trans people who continue to face the Lavender Scare

  2. Christopher Saunders Christopher Saunders says:

    David K Johnson's The Lavender Scare looks at the hidden side of the Red Scare specifically the efforts by the US government to purge gay and lesbian employees That thousands of bureaucrats and officials saw their careers ruined merely for existing remains a shamefully underreported chapter in American history While Johnson's writing style is occasionally dry and academic the fascinating content of his book makes up for it Beyond sketching Washington's reputation somewhat earned but often exaggerated as a gay mecca during and immediately after WWII Johnson demonstrates how easily Red hunters tied sexual perversion with political subversion The excuse that gay and lesbian employees were security risks liable to blackmail or just plain unreliable or unstable became a self fulfilling prophecy due to the era's mixture of political paranoia and sexual repression the saga of Lester Hunt the Wyoming Senator who committed suicide after his son was outed is merely the best known outgrowth of this tendency Still Johnson argues some good belatedly emerged from this grim period as the dispossession of thousands of intelligent articulate and well placed LGBT individuals laid the groundwork for the gay rights movement Nonetheless it remains a sadly relevant cautionary tale showing how reactionary politics sexual repression and rank bigotry can ruin lives destroy people and turn an entire class into criminals

  3. Tate Brombal Tate Brombal says:

    Eye opening and at many points riveting It left my blood boiling but also inspired me — especially the segments on ueer survival and resistance So much has changed yet so much is still the same

  4. Jon L Jon L says:

    Celebrating gay pride is celebrating that we have rights

  5. Nate Nate says:

    The Lavender Scare’s first two chapters lay out the book’s premise and background In the aftermath of Senator Joseph McCarthy’s famous declarations about communists in the State Department department security officer John Peurifoy stated that 91 people had resigned from the State Department while under investigation as security risks most of whom were homosexual Following this statement many government employees lost their jobs under suspicions over their sexual conduct as this conduct became an issue of major national concern Central to the ideology of the Lavender Scare was the notion that gays and lesbians could not restrain their sexual urges and that they had other ualities such as mental instability which supposedly made them incapable of being loyal government employees Among other things this meant people charged with sexual ‘misconduct’ not only lost their jobs but had their character and uality as persons called into uestionPrior to the Cold War there had been an era of sexual openness and tolerance in Washington DC Johnson notes that many openly gay men worked in feminized white collar jobs in civil service and elsewhere arguing that these men felt comfortable within the gender norms of these environments than in other workplaces Local bigots eventually reacted against DC’s vibrant gay community Given DC’s status as a national center and given the post war context of the Cold War this local repression uickly became than a local issue Johnson returns to this repression and its growth in his third chapter This chapter and the next three deal in painstaking detail with government policy and implementation of the Lavender Scare practices which now look like little than coordinated harassment and bullying and popular perceptions of sexual conduct among civil servants The book’s final two chapters turn to first hand accounts of the experience of these purges and the formation of a collective push back against institutional homophobia Johnson focuses mainly on the Mattachine Society of Washington which used the courts lobbying and eventually public pickets on the White House to protest discriminatory policies Johnson suggests that these formed an important and still overlooked aspect of activism against oppression based on sexuality Johnson’s book contains an insight with ramifications beyond the history of sexuality one which cuts against the impulse of some myself included to refer to ‘the state’ as one homogeneous entity namely the relative autonomy and internal heterogeneity of state For example the main agenda of the State Department and the White House was avoiding negative publicity about employees’ sexual ‘misconduct’ This agenda conflicted with the demands for greater publicity placed by some people involved in Congressional investigations and tribunals To the degree that the government acts as one body this is at least in part the product of hegemony and discipline within and across government agencies produced by processes such as the investigation and screening programs which scrutinized the private behavior and moral character of government employees I have one reservation about the book Throughout the book Johnson uses the term homosexual rather than ueer and writes at least implicitly in favor of his subjects’ goal of inclusion in the form of citizenship and civil rights From what little I’ve read these terms and goals are contentious within ueer theory and the history of sexuality I would have liked an appendix or preface dealing with these controversies in relation to his own decisions in the book Additional random thoughts Johnson treats several things briefly that merit extensive treatment than they have received in scholarship as far as I know For example Johnson notes that many openly gay men worked in feminized white collar jobs in civil service and elsewhere arguing that these men felt comfortable within the gender norms of these environments than in other workplaces Perhaps someone has already written it but the world needs a book on that link between labor processes gender norms and sexuality The world could also use a book that presents detailed history of the making of gay DC than Johnson is able to present – he cites an unpublished 2002 dissertation about DC “A ueer Capital” by Brett Beemyn hopefully that will be published as a book soon

  6. William Dameron William Dameron says:

    This book was a fascinating read about a little reported era While I was familiar with the cold war and McCarthy's witch hunt for communists in the federal government and how I thought gays were tangentially involved I was not aware that it was primarily LGBT individuals who were targeted It is in incredibly important read in order to understand how this fear and shame has been handed down to future generations and affected the generations who came after those targeted The Mattachine Society Kameny and others have often been overlooked This book gives credit to those early pre stonewall heroes

  7. Tymxx Tymxx says:

    David K Johnson’s “The Lavender Scare The Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Government” examines the cleansing of homosexuals in our nation’s capital as a result of McCarthyism in the 1950’s Johnson starts off by painting a picture of Washington DC that not many myself included could imagine considering it’s time in history After the second world war America loosened up We drank had babies at an unprecedented rate one of which we still haven’t seen and became open about our sexual needs than ever before It wasn’t overly shocking to see two men or two women holding hands at Monument Suare or even laying together amongst other things at Lafayette Park There were even large openly gay bars and nightclubs that both gay and straight people attended Washington as Johnson indicates was the gay capitol of the world Then 1950 happened Senator McCarthy’s initial document stated there were two hundred and five reported communist working on Capitol Hill Shortly after the release of the Senator’s “findings” came Deputy Undersecretary John Puerifoy’s report that indicated there were 91 “confirmed” homosexuals in the State Department From these two cases came the conclusion that homosexuals were in cahoots with communists thus the Lavender Scare It was a ridiculous ploy that the Junior Senator from Wisconsin and many of his Republican colleagues stood by if not for the fear it represented for the political advantage it gave the Republicans come election time After all these hiring’s were down on President Truman’s watch and not a right wing representative Regardless the two cases brought the first wave of fear to the American public since the war It was a fear that Johnson proves had no merit It was a theme that freuently presented itself as McCarthy’s findings came to surface After the firing of the “91” the author provides a play by play of court hearings that surprisingly fail to change the perception of gay culuture in the capitol to the American public Instead it altered the narrative of why homosexuals were not to be tolerated from them being undercover communists to being a prime target for communists to take advantage of They were convinced that if they were working near sensitive material the communist would blackmail them into obtaining information to bring back to mother Russia or else they’ll out them as being gay To be outted was the euivalence of having a death sentence in Washington at the time Johnson later reveals there wasn’t a single case of blackmailing ever happening during this time frame In Johnson’s later chapters he uncovers a kind of policing that the government implemented that mirrored that of the Nazi’s The Miscellaneous M Unit was designed to troll parks bars and even entrap any civilians that were engaging in or promoting homosexual activity The M Unit weren’t regulated and proceeded to sentence someone anyone they see fit Beatings often took place and often times it led to them reporting to the “guilty” persons work place so they could be fired This led to a dramatic swing when officer Frank Mathos a member of the “moral suad” set a sting on Edward Kelly Mathos invited Kelly to touch him which he did and inevitably led to Kelly’s arrest Mr Kelly challenged the ruling and won the case stating it wasn’t illegal if he was inviting someone to touch him The case also presented a message that it wasn’t illegal to be gayThe author does a wonderful job making the Lavender Scare its own headline uite often the events that caused the persecution of gays and lesbians are reported as a mere subplot to the “greater” Red Scare storyline but Johnson effectively links the evolution of the case against gay America in his research and presents it a way that reminds us that this was a real attack against human rights

  8. Clayton Brannon Clayton Brannon says:

    Excellent account of the persecutions of homosexuals during the 50s and 60s This is not some kind of lurid account it is a scholarly study of the systematic exclusion of an entire group of people from being able to live a normal life and contribute to society The thousands and thousands who lost their jobs and had their lives destroyed through innuendo and by not so well meaning people who used the system for petty reasons to destroy another persons life

  9. Sierra McGuire Sierra McGuire says:

    What an eye opener It’s crazy how much they don’t teach in schools A good book for a 101 look into the lavender scares Very straight forward with a little bit of stories accounts of the people that lives were affected by this crazy ass government regulations at the time The affect of which I still see ripples in our culture today

  10. Jeff Stookey Jeff Stookey says:

                This is an important book for understanding how homosexuality became so vilified in America            Beginning in 1950 after WWII and the developing Cold War Senator Joseph McCarthy claimed the State Department was full of Communists Shortly thereafter State Department’s John Peurifoy in a congressional hearing revealed that 91 homosexuals had been fired from the department as “security risks” Republicans had expressed concerns about “sexual perverts” in government as early as 1947 After being out of power since FDR’s 1933 election this was part of a GOP strategy to discredit the Truman administration and win votes            Hence the Lavender Scare began purging anyone suspected of being gay or lesbian from the State Department Then the loyaltysecurity program targeting Communists and homosexuals spread to other agencies going government wide under Eisenhower after the 1952 election            Such historical background and like the following make this book compelling reading for all Americans “In the 19th century middle class ideology insisted thatto work for a salary was considered demeaning and emasculatingto seek work from politicianswas a sign of unmanliness”            For me the most moving part of the book recounts the personal stories of men and women who were interrogated by government agents humiliated and pressured to name other homosexuals One woman “thought this was what it must have been like in Nazi Germany”            Thousands of gay men and women were forced out of government jobs but a brave few resisted The later part of the book describes efforts by the gay community to fight back organizing and winning court victories that advanced the movement for gay rights These successes implicate “the federal government’s McCarthy era anti gay policies” as the genesis of the LGBT liberation movement

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