Purge of gay government employees began in 1950s, went on for decades
An important piece of American history comes into focus in the upcoming documentary The Lavender Scare, opening in New York and Los Angeles June 7 (with a national release to follow).
The film directed by Josh Howard documents the witch-hunt against LGBT employees of the federal government, which began under the Eisenhower administration. The rationale for firing gay workers grew out of the Red Scare -- it was thought homosexuality represented such a shameful secret that gay people were uniquely vulnerable to blackmail by Soviet agents.
All of this needs to be said. People need to know.
"With the United States gripped in the panic of the 1950s Cold War, President Dwight D. Eisenhower deemed homosexuals to be 'security risks' and vowed to rid the federal government of all employees discovered to be gay or lesbian," notes a press release about the film. "Over the next four decades, the longest witch-hunt in American history, tens of thousands of government workers would lose their jobs for no reason other than their sexual orientation."
The film argues the witch-hunt produced an unintended effect -- helping to ignite the gay rights movement. The documentary is narrated by actress Glenn Close and includes the voices of Cynthia Nixon, Zachary Quinto, David Hyde Pierce and T.R. Knight.
Watch the trailer here:
Matthew Carey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His work has appeared on Deadline.com, CNN, CNN.com, TheWrap.com, NBCNews.com and in Documentary magazine.