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The Lavender Scare

Tuesday, June 18 at 9 p.m. — Learn about the decades-long efforts by the U.S. government to fire gay and lesbian employees.

The Lavender Scare

More About The Lavender Scare

Narrated by Glenn Close and featuring the voices of Cynthia Nixon, Zachary Quinto, T. R. Knight and David Hyde Pierce, The Lavender Scare tells the little-known story of an unrelenting campaign by the federal government to identify and fire employees suspected of being homosexual.

In 1953, at the height of the Cold War and Senator Joe McCarthy’s virulent campaign against suspected Communists and possible traitors, President Eisenhower declared gay men and lesbians to be a threat to the security of the country and therefore unfit for government service. In doing so, he incited decades of stigmatization against LGBTQ employees in the federal workforce.

Over the next four decades, tens of thousands of government workers were intimidated, harassed and investigated, confronted with information from anonymous informants and threatened with exposure. Many lost their jobs and prospects for the future — some even driven to suicide — for no reason other than their sexual orientation. But the actions of the government had an unintended effect, stirring outrage in the community and helping to ignite the gay rights movement. It was not until 1995 that President Clinton signed an executive order ending the ban on security clearances for gay workers.

Watch a Preview of The Lavender Scare