David K. The Lavender Scare: The
Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Government.
312 p., 18 halftones, 4 line drawings. 2004
$30.00 0-226-40481-1 Fall 2003 Available 11/03.
McCarthy era is generally considered the worst period of political repression
in recent American history. But while the famous question, "Are you now
or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?" resonated in the
halls of Congress, security officials were posing another question at least as
frequently, if more discreetly: "Information has come to the attention of
the Civil Service Commission that you are a homosexual. What comment do you
care to make?"
David K. Johnson here relates the frightening, untold story of how, during the
Cold War, homosexuals were considered as dangerous a threat to national
security as Communists. Charges that the Roosevelt and Truman administrations
were havens for homosexuals proved a potent political weapon, sparking a
"Lavender Scare" more vehement and long-lasting than McCarthy's Red
Scare. Relying on newly declassified documents, years of research in the
records of the National Archives and the FBI, and interviews with former civil
servants, Johnson recreates the vibrant gay subculture that flourished in New
and takes us inside the security interrogation rooms where thousands of
Americans were questioned about their sex lives. The homosexual purges ended
promising careers, ruined lives, and pushed many to suicide. But, as Johnson
also shows, the purges brought victims together to protest their treatment,
helping launch a new civil rights struggle.
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.
Introduction: "Panic on the Potomac"
1. Peurifoy's Revelation: The Politics of the Purges
2. "This Used to Be a Very Gay City:" Lafayette Park and the Sex
3. "Cookie Pushers in Striped Pants:" The Lavender Lads in the State
4. "Fairies and Fair Dealers:" The Immoral Bureaucracy
5. The Hoey Investigation: Searching for a Homosexual Spy
6. "Let's Clean House:" The Eisenhower Security Program
7. Interrogations and Disappearances: Gay and Lesbian Subculture in 1950s
8. "Homosexual Citizens:" The Mattachine Society of Washington
Oral History Interviews
and Legal Studies: Legal History
Science: American Government and Politics
Science: Diplomacy, Foreign Policy, and International Relations
and Lesbian Studies
Social Change, Social Movements, Political Sociology
of Chicago Press