The Lavender Scare

The Lavender Scare

Mon, 06/14/2021 - 9:00pm - 10:00pm

Frank Kameny picketing. Forty activists joined the protest, making it (at the time) the largest public demonstration for LGBT rights in world history.

Credit: The Lavender Scare

This film to tell the little-known story of an unrelenting campaign by the federal government to identify and fire all employees suspected of being homosexual.

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. Partly based on the award-winning book by historian David K. Johnson, The Lavender Scare illuminates a little-known chapter of American history and serves as a timely reminder of the value of vigilance and social action when civil liberties are under attack. The Lavender Scare airs Monday, June 14, 2021 at 9 p.m. on WXXI-TV.

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. But the mass firings have an unintended effect: they stirred outrage in the gay community, helped ignite the gay rights movement, and thrust an unlikely hero into the forefront of the LGBTQ rights movement.