"Commies And Queers": Narratives That Supported The Lavender Scare
Heatley, Holly S
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In the early 1950s, the perceived threat of communists and homosexuals loomed large over the United States. The U.S. press presented narratives that portrayed communists and homosexuals in remarkably similar language that easily merged. The U.S. public viewed the two groups as equal in status, kind, and objective. The twin menaces reinforced one another and elicited an equivalent response. These narratives and the perceptions they fostered set the stage for the purge of homosexuals from the federal government known as the Lavender Scare. While the Red Scare and Lavender Scare were originally intertwined, legislators and the federal security apparatus continued to hunt alleged homosexuals into the 1970s. Only in the 1990s did homosexuals feel secure enough to work openly in the federal government. The Lavender Scare took from its victims careers, families, and, sometimes, their lives. However, it also created leaders who challenged the perceptions and regulations that oppressed them.