“These People Are Frightened To Death”
June 3, 2019 8:59 AM   Subscribe

A thriving postwar LGBTQ scene in Washington D.C was decimated by paranoia and prosecution over supposed links to queerness and communist subversion : The Lavender Scare (The Nib) “The purge followed an era in which gay people were increasingly finding each other and forming communities in urban America. During World War II, many men and women left behind the restrictions of rural or small-town life for the first time. After the war, young people poured into cities, where density and anonymity made pursuit of same-sex relationships more possible than ever.” Congressional Investigations and the Lavender Scare (Archives.gov) “Frank Kameny was fired from his federal government job in 1957 because he was gay. He didn’t just go home and pull the covers over his head. He fought a successful eighteen-year-battle with the government to change the law so the same thing didn’t happen to other gay people.” (Making Gay History)
posted by The Whelk (5 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
 
A similar reckoning has been taking place in Canada, where "the so-called "fruit machine" was a homosexuality detection system commissioned by the Canadian government during the Cold War — and developed largely by a psychologist at Carleton University in Ottawa — to keep LGBT people out of the public service or military."
posted by ITheCosmos at 9:49 AM on June 3 [2 favorites]


Can't recall if I've mentioned/recommended this book here, but David Johnson's The Lavender Scare: The Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Government is a fascinating and infuriating read.
posted by the sobsister at 9:55 AM on June 3 [1 favorite]


Wikipedia:
An outspoken opponent of Senator Joseph McCarthy's anti-Communist campaign, [Senator Lester] Hunt challenged McCarthy and his senatorial allies by championing a proposed law restricting Congressional immunity and allowing individuals to sue members of Congress for slanderous statements. In June 1953, Hunt's son was arrested in Washington, D.C., on charges of soliciting sex with an undercover male police officer. (Homosexual acts were prohibited by law at the time.) Several Republican senators, including McCarthy, threatened Hunt with prosecution of his son and wide publication of the event unless he abandoned plans to run for re-election and resigned immediately, which Hunt refused to do. His son was convicted and fined on October 6, 1953. On April 15, 1954, Hunt announced his intention to run for re-election. He changed his mind, however, after McCarthy renewed the threat to use his son's arrest against him. On June 19, 1954, Hunt committed suicide in his Senate office; the suicide dealt a serious blow to McCarthy's image and was one of the factors that led to his censure by the Senate later in 1954.⁽¹⁾
posted by XMLicious at 10:41 AM on June 3 [10 favorites]


Jesus H. Christ.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 3:12 PM on June 3


“Frank Kameny was fired from his federal government job in 1957 because he was gay. He didn’t just go home and pull the covers over his head. He fought a successful eighteen-year-battle with the government to change the law spent an entire generation of his life-span confronting the bigotry of American society on a daily basis in a public manner so the same thing didn’t happen to other gay people.”

Kameny is a fucking hero, and his work should be shouted from the highest rooftops on a regular basis.
posted by hippybear at 6:39 PM on June 3 [11 favorites]


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