the contrarian

United States

Proud member of Dumbasses Inc.
Profile is by Sara Kipin.

Anti-gun, pro-choice, very queer, an ally of BIPOC, and supporter of the BLM movement. Read my pieces. Educate yourself.

Joined 2018. Left 2020.

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Might get taken down because of some terms used, but hey, I tried.

LGBT+ History 2: The Lavender Scare

June 15, 2020

FREE WRITING

16

Warning! The following piece involves one of the many dark parts of the LGBT+ history, the "Lavender Scare." My original plan was to write a longer piece involving this, the Stonewall riots, and the LGBTQ+ panic defense, but health issues got in the way and I have a busy week ahead of me. So, this was written before my immune system decided to drop off the side of the Earth, and I wanted to post something of note just in case my condition worsens suddenly. All references will be linked throughout the piece. Thank you for your support.

You’ve heard of the Red Scare, the witch-hunt against Communists during the early 1900s, now get ready to learn about its older and homosexual counterpart, the Lavender Scare. They don’t teach this stuff in history class as far as I’m concerned, so I’ll be as thorough as I can while adhering to guidelines. So, buckle up!

The Lavender Scare began in the late 1940s, continued through the 1960s, and ended around 1975, when the Civil Service Commission announced new rules that stated that homosexuals could no longer be fired from federal employment only because of their sexuality. It was a relentless witch-hunt against gay men and lesbian women, and lasted longer than both the first and second Red Scares.

Before I get started on the Lavender Scare, however, I’d like to touch up on the Sex Perversion Elimination Act, created by the United States Park Police in 1947, which targeted gay men for arrest and intimidation, and a year later, Congress passed an act for treating sexual psychopaths, which “facilitated the arrest and punishment of people who acted on same-sex desire and also labeled them mentally ill” (Reference, Par 6). This is important, as the United States government perceived homosexuality as a lurking subversive threat, just as they did with the impending threat of Communism. Rather unfortunately, due to the Red Scare, homosexuality became somehow interrelated with Communism, thus leading to what we know now as the Lavender Scare.

The existence of the Lavender Scare is, in essence, the fault of one Senator Joseph McCarthy, who associated Communists and homosexuals together. This was most evident in his “Enemies from Within” speech, which was delivered in Wheeling, West Virginia on February 9, 1950 to the Republican Women’s Club of that city. In his speech, McCarthy claimed to have a list of 205 known Communists working at the State Department . Two of his cases concerned homosexuality, and, on February 20, when McCarthy spoke on the Senate floor, offering more detail on some of the initially mentioned individuals, he directly linked Communism and homosexuality(Reference, Par 8).

Additionally, a top intelligence official reportedly told McCarthy that "practically every active Communist is twisted mentally or physically in some way,” implying that the gay men in the two cases mentioned were vulnerable to Communist recruitment, since they had the aforementioned “peculiar mental twists” (Reference, Par 9).

Afterwards, tens of thousands of queer men and women working for the U.S. government would lose their jobs, all because of their sexuality. Fortunately, the actions of the government ignited the gay rights movement. Frank Kameny, for example, was fired from his federal government job in 1957 because of his sexuality. Rather than staying silent, however, he founded a militant gay rights group in 1961, organized the first publid protests by gay people in front of the White House in 1965, and in the early 1970s, he fought successfully with other gay-rights activists to get homosexuality removed from the list of mental illnesses. This is just a short list of what Kameny accomplished during his life-long battle with the government, so that what happened to him wouldn’t happen to others in the LGBTQ+ community (Reference).
 
If I'm feeling better and have the time, I'll make another piece or two on the Stonewall riots and the LGBTQ+ panic defense. For now, though, I'm still feeling slightly under the weather. Stay safe, and happy Pride!

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  • June 15, 2020 - 6:50pm (Now Viewing)

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5 Comments
  • luluwrites111

    This is so important, and you write it so well! Most people know about stonewall, but a lot don't know about these other happenings, including the lavender scare and also the compton's cafeteria riots. anyway I hope u feel better! Happy Pride! :)


    5 months ago
  • sunny.v

    thank you thank you thank you for always doing this! educating us better than the american curriculum even DREAMS about. i can’t imagine how much effort it takes, and you lay this all out so well. wow. *intense clapping* There you go again queen, constantly raising the bar. i’d say i’m surprised but i know who you are. also: your health issues! :((( how are you doing? is your ear feeling better? please don’t sacrifice any of yourself—i’d much rather see you healthy and wait longer for these awesome pieces. stay safe and gorgeous!!! ^-^ thank you again! (happy pride be gay do crime)


    5 months ago
  • jun lei

    thank you so much for educating us. i hope you feel better soon, and i'd love a stonewall riot piece, but please, please don't exhaust yourself! we love and appreciate you, which is why we want you to put your health, mental and physical, first. happy pride, queen!


    5 months ago
  • pineapples

    thank you!
    i love learning about LGBTQ+ history, and although I knew about the lavender scare, this was nice and detailed
    i think it's really important people know about lgbtq+ history, and I think it's really unfortunate schools really don't teach anything regarding lgbtq+ history


    5 months ago
  • chrysanthemums&ink

    thank you for writing this. all the best <3


    5 months ago