This is Gay Pride Month and in honor of the fights that have been won, PBS and other networks, are honoring their cause by showing documentaries on this movement. Of course, we were told about McCarthyism, but not about this. I am disappointed that President Eisenhower promoted the Communist witch hunt, for obvious reasons. But he also took away the rights of our gay citizens, because of purported cohesion with foreign agents J. Edgar Hoover has had much speculation about his “queer” tendencies printed, like cross-dressing. It was his investigations of gays in the government that turned it back on him. He was a racist and power hungry (and a possible cross dresser). And he found an ally in Joe McCarthy after burning many bridges during prohibition.
Please watch. You may be surprised at what you’ll learn!
The “Lavender Scare” was a moral panic during the mid-20th century about homosexual people in the United States government and their mass dismissal from government service. It contributed to and paralleled the anti-communist campaign known as McCarthyism and the Second Red Scare. Gay men and lesbians were said to be national security risks and communist sympathizers, which led to the call to remove them from state employment. It was thought that gay people were more susceptible to being manipulated which could pose a threat to the country. The Lavender Scare – the federal government’s official response to both a visible lesbian and gay community and a perceived homosexual menace – normalized persecution of homosexuals through bureaucratic institutionalization of homophobic discrimination policy. Former U.S. Senator Alan K. Simpson has written: “The so-called ‘Red Scare’ has been the main focus of most historians of that period of time. A lesser-known element… and one that harmed far more people was the witch-hunt McCarthy and others conducted against homosexuals.”
Just watching and reading the brief link above, gives you an idea of what took place. In 1957, after thousands had lost their jobs, a Harvard-trained astronomer named Frank Kameny became the first person to fight his dismissal. His attempts to regain his job evolved into a lifelong fight for the rights of LGBT people. He said he’d do it again. The Lavender Scare is a compelling story of one man’s fight for justice. And it is a chilling reminder of how easy it can be, during a time of fear and uncertainty, to trample the rights of an entire class of people in the name of patriotism and national security. It also shares many of those who lost their careers, were blacklisted and “unemployable” being labeled as “gay. This was tragic and led to many suicides for talented, educated, otherwise successful people featured in the documentary. EYE-OPENING. Don’t ever let anybody marginalize anybody!
Another offering is “Prideland,” which follows queer actor Dyllón Burnside on a journey of LGBTQ discovery across the South. This is for today and how brave LGBTQ persons are coming forward to talk about the issues, especially in the evangelical bible belt. It truly was a great special. A favorite Neflix show is “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” that also takes place in the conservative south. And then there is Dragnificent on TLC, helping women embrace their own unique selves. All shows that help support the movement gives hope. I did a story on “A Secret Love” about best friends who “stayed in the closet” for 65 years, until the “Marriage Equality law” passed and they were able to finally become legal spouses. And last week I featured Rise Up, Songs of the Women’s Movement of Gay/Lesbians, and those brave souls that brought us to where we are today. This is why! Today! The SCOTUS just upheld the Federal Civil Rights Law that protects gay and transgendered workers.