The Lavender Scare

In 1953, President Eisenhower ordered a purge of gay federal employees, who were deemed security risks. A new documentary delves deeper into this executive order.


Pride Month this June commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Inn riots in Greenwich Village, where gay men and women fought back against police raids. Stonewall is often associated with the start of the modern LGBT rights movement, but in actuality, efforts to stop government mistreatment of gay people went back more than a decade before 1969.

The Lavender Scare, which aired on PBS during Pride Month, documents President Dwight Eisenhower's 1953 executive order launching an official purge of homosexual federal employees. In the midst of fears of Communist spies infecting the government, gay men and women were declared to be security risks because their secret lives made them susceptible to blackmail.

This move was of course heaping injury upon injury, as the cultural belief at the time that homosexuality was a form of psychological perversion was what made gays feel they needed to keep that part of their identities secret. At any rate, there was little evidence to justify the blackmail fears, but thousands of Americans were hounded out of their jobs and had their careers ruined. Some, like astronomer and activist Frank Kameny, fought back, picketing the White House years before Stonewall. It would take decades for the order to be fully rescinded under President Bill Clinton.

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  1. Needless to say, almost all change has been sponsored by the left while conservatives have almost always supported the status quo (possible exception the Tea Party Movement)

    Is it really any wonder the youth are attracted to the left ?

    1. Free is very attractive.

    2. Youth are often uneducated and simple without depth of thought or analysis, or democrats.

      1. Says the person who thinks a category 5 hurricane is a hoax by the liberal media.

        1. What the blue hell is the MT Files?

          Couldn't find anything with a viewership above 5 to fact check?

        2. Says the person who thinks a category 1 hurricane is category 5.

      2. Conservatives can't understand why their multifaceted bigotry causes young Americans to reject right-wing politics?

        I guess some subjects are off-limits at Ouachita Baptist, Oral Roberts, Grove City, Patrick Henry, or Wheaton.

        1. Don't you have an antifa rally to go to, slaver?

    3. idiots, too.

  2. It becomes, of course, a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you sack gay people then they will conceal the fact that they are gay. This makes them vulnerable to blackmail. So, you have to sack them because of the security risk.

  3. Not defending this but it helps to acknowledge that homosexuality was not the only disqualifying issue for security clearances. There was, and I'm sure still is, a long list of disqualifications related to the danger of blackmail.
    As already mentioned, this was a self perpetuating situation to some degree. If you make it forbidden then the perpetrator is more susceptible to blackmail, but in 1953 that didn't matter. Being gay was something people kept secret for a wide variety of reasons that had nothing to do with security clearances. It's a bit disingenuous to pretend otherwise.

  4. Youth are often uneducated and simple without depth of thought or analysis, or democrats.

  5. Unfortunately, we LGBTQ+ Americans continue to experience brutal oppression under the Drumpf regime, which literally resembles The Handmaid's Tale. For example, in college I came out as non-binary and began using they / them pronouns. Yet people continue to misgender me everyday with "he" and "him" and "sir" just because I have short hair on top of my head, some hair on my face, a deep voice, and a bulging Adam's apple visible from the next zip code.


    1. Furthermore — and as an intersectional feminist it pains me to say this — transphobia is particularly severe within the cis-female community. Some cis-women are so bigoted that they're uncomfortable sharing a public restroom with a transwoman who happens to have a beard. Likewise, some cis-women make absurd complaints about seeing transwomen's penises and testicles in public locker rooms and showering facilities.

      Perhaps worst of all, there are actually science-denying cis-female athletes who argue their transgender competitors have an "unfair advantage." Which is just crazy talk.


      1. How is thinking that person A who has the skeleton and musculature of a male competing against female B as being unfair crazy? "A" has at least several years of (endogenous) testosterone building of muscles, which "B" never had, since "B" was always female, but "A" only recently. How is this fair?

        And as for penises and testicles, if you got 'em, you're a him, not a her. If you get them removed, then you're might claim to be a her, and the ladies in locker room can get over it, but until then, no, you're still a him.

    2. Great. This will all "come out" at the next Dem marathon debate on alphabet issues, sure to change lots of votes.

      Meanwhile, conversion therapy on conservatives continues on course at universities and corporations.

    3. Are you always triggered-to-parody whenever someone uses the word them to apply to a group of men? Just wondering. You’re sooper sensitive.

    4. How do you have time in the day to worry about someone somewhere employing a gender-neutral pronoun? You’re blood pressure must be like 240/160. Relax, man!

    5. No OBL, "misgendering" is NOT violence.

      You apparently insist on taking offense where none is intended. Most people (including the vast majority of the gay and lesbian population) simply do not care how you choose to think of yourself. This is not violence, but simply benign neglect.... a good policy for most social interactions other than the most intimate.

  6. With the ascent of the tranny gestapo...maybe Ike had a point.

    1. There is a huge difference between hating other people and wanting to keep them down (gays, transtesticals, lesbians) and acknowledging that foreign powers would use homosexuality (Society's disapproval of this behavior) to blackmail government employees.

      Eisenhower was very aware of how the US Government was filled with Communist sympathizers and how the Russians do things. He was in charge of Allied forces in Europe and dealt with many Russian military people.

      Eisenhower warned us of the power of special interests (Military Industrial Complex, Homos, etc).

  7. Seems like Christians are likely to be our next national oppressed minority. So, I don't think it's accurate to say that homosexual were our last oppressed minority.

    1. Christians have not really been an oppressed minority since ancient Rome. There are plenty of Christians and plenty of Christian Churches. All US presidents have been Christian and will likely be Christian for the foreseeably future (I don't expect Bernie Sanders to win). Seven of 9 Supreme Court justices are Christian. And 88% of Congress are Christians. Where in the US are Christians likely to be a minority, much less an oppressed minority?

  8. I'm generally suspicious of left-wing '50s-bashing, but I understand it was an era of bona fide "homophobia," by which I don't mean "go to the next block to get your cake baked," but "let's beat people up or maybe kill them because they're gay." Not that *everyone* was into that sort of thing, just enough people (including some cops, who apparently need *someone* to push around) to make things bad for gays.

    A hint to the alphabet activists - to acknowledge these evils is not to say that gay behavior is good, or that the citizenry should be required to make compulsory affirmations of faith to that effect.

    1. We're turning over Western society...for a group of people suffering from a mental disorder. And we're supposed to pretend that their delusions are actual reality.

      Note: The ONLY reason Chapelle's special has such low critic scores on Rotten Tomatoes is that he joked about trannies. That is the only reason. But THEY are the oppressed minority? The ones who can make the CEO of YouTube apologize for not kicking people off that they deem to be "hateful"? The ones who have cowtowed science into pretending that ANY of their claims have the tiniest sliver of evidence behind them and are trying to force through a bill (the Equality Act) that will FORCE parents to give their kids hormone blockers if the kids think they are the wrong gender.

      Fuck these people.

      1. +100

      2. "Fuck these people."

        My cow has towed enough science for sex people.

    2. The interesting thing was the two elements of it: one an actual fear of homos, (homo-phobia) that they would either be rapists or try to convert the youth into homosexuals of their type; the other an outlet for aggression by those who figured they had nothing to lose by literally bashing fags, because gays were so vilified that laws against battering them would not be enforced. The fag bashers didn't actually fear homos, but they now get lumped in as "homophobes".

      Lesbians were not so strongly beaten or feared, but that may be because they're so much less prevalent than gays.

      1. Declaring that it's in effect open season for thugs to attack some group - there's an *actual* constitutional violation.

        I'm getting the impression that there are people who don't object to the principle of singling out some group for beatings or worse - they simply quibble over which groups are to be targeted.

  9. At any rate, there was little evidence to justify the blackmail fears, but thousands of Americans were hounded out of their jobs and had their careers ruined.

    Shackford is a big liar...again.
    Joseph Alsop, A OSS/CIA operative. Early in 1957, the KGB photographed him in a hotel room in Moscow while he was having sex with another man, an agent of the Soviet Union. He rebuffed Soviet attempts at blackmail, instead writing "a detailed account of the incident and a relevant narrative history of his sex life."

    1. LC1789, not so sure... sometimes the best way to deal with this sort of attempted blackmail is to say, yes, that was me, and so, what of it? If one doesn't attempt to hide one's differences (sexual, religious, political) and just acknowledges them, then blackmail looses its clout.

      But it takes fortitude, and a certain lack of respect for the common man's opinion. (Fiscal independence helps too!)

  10. Among the top ten things I have seen and experienced in my lifetime in historical importance. I cannot rank them.

    The amazing break out of gay people to claim and obtain equal rights and status in society is one of them. Just amazing. It happened almost overnight yet it took decades to achieve. I really mean that.

    I am Jewish so the phrase when someone does a good job is Yasher koach it means something like strength to you or stay strong.

    I think the gay community has done that against adversity which still exists as we see here. So yasher koach.

    - Always focus on the individual.

  11. Again I have little idea why.

    In the 90s the band Blink 182 did something. They took clean pop lines and mashed up with punk rock. Timing in this is everything as the tempo changes. Travis Barker on drums pulls it together.

    Adams song - Blink 182

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