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The Lavender Scare: The Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Government
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The Lavender Scare: The Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Government

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  195 ratings  ·  13 reviews
The Lavender Scare shatters the myth that homosexuality has only recently become a national political issue, changing the way we think about both the McCarthy era and the origins of the gay rights movement.
Kindle Edition, 312 pages
Published (first published 2004)
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The Lavender Scare’s first two chapters lay out the book’s premise and background. In the aftermath of Senator Joseph McCarthy’s famous declarations about communists in the State Department, department security officer John Peurifoy stated that 91 people had resigned from the State Department while under investigation as security risks, most of whom were homosexual. Following this statement, many more government employees lost their jobs under suspicions over their sexual conduct as this conduct ...more
David K. Johnson’s, “The Lavender Scare: The Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Government” examines the cleansing of homosexuals in our nation’s capital as a result of McCarthyism in the 1950’s. Johnson starts off by painting a picture of Washington D.C. that not many, myself included, could imagine considering it’s time in history. After the second world war, America loosened up. We drank more, had babies at an unprecedented rate (one of which we still haven’t seen), and ...more
In The Lavender Scare: The Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Government, David K. Johnson constructs a narrative of contestation centered around the employment of and discrimination against homosexual federal employees. Johnson’s work simultaneously encompasses elements of labor history, social history, gender studies, District of Columbia history, and Cold War history as he seeks to present a full treatment of the gay and lesbian community’s decades-long struggle for not ...more
David Johnson’s The Lavender Scare: The Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Government repositions gay and lesbian persecution during the Cold Ware at the center of Cold War hysteria rather than at the margins. Johnson brings to the forefront the lavender scare that accompanied the red scare during the Cold War. While other histories of the Cold War period have placed the persecution of gays and lesbians as an additional offshoot of the broader McCarthy paranoia, Johnson loc ...more
Johnson examines the purge of gay men and women employed by the federal government during the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. He contends that homosexuality (the moral corruption) was perceived as a greater “security risk” than communism and that more attention went to removing gay men and women from their jobs than removing communist-sympathizers. Moreover, he contends that this persecution inadvertently strengthened the ties between the gay and lesbian communities in Washington DC and led participant ...more
this book is *sort of* hard to review; in terms of history it is interesting but it frames the entire issue very weakly (that is there could be some more information about developing sciences of homosexuality and how the government came to *know* what a *homosexual* was; given that this is one of the most interesting parts and is given scant attention) and the tendency to view gay rights in a simple legalistic framework and reflect on this as *the bad old days* is somewhat disingenuous although ...more
Melissa Maxwell
I enjoyed the book very much. It was assigned to me for class but it was very informative on a time in recent American history which is almost never discussed. You never read about the firing of almost 2000 federal employees because of their sexual preference or because they associated with people who were Gay/Lesbian. It was very informative and would recommend it to readers who wish to learn more about this time era.
In progress and processing still - sheds light on a little known but highly publicized and public time for gays and lesbians working/living in D.C. that I'm sure the government would rather have stayed unknown. Highly recommend.
Tony Pisano
Great information on a subject I had no idea about. Recommended to anyone in search of our countries history that isn't told to is in high school. A little tougher to read than some books, still very well written and informative
Good addition to the pre-Stonewall GLBT experience canon...but could have used better editing.
Kash Kashley
Fascinating look at a part of history not as often covered.
Laura deLuna
im on page 10, subtitle "New Sources"...
Read this for a graduate paper. Very informative and detailed.
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