DAVID BIANCULLI

Founder / Editor

ERIC GOULD

Associate Editor

LINDA DONOVAN

Assistant Editor

Contributors

ALEX STRACHAN

GARY EDGERTON

ROGER CATLIN

MIKE HUGHES

KIM AKASS

GERALD JORDAN

TOM BRINKMOELLER

NOEL HOLSTON

 
 
 
 
 
'The Lavender Scare' Highlights Early LGBTQ Persecution – in the U.S. Federal Government
June 18, 2019  | By Mike Hughes
 


Frank Kameny (top, in suit) was 6 when he chose a career in astronomy.

He got a master's degree and a doctorate from Harvard, then a federal job. He dreamed of being an astronaut; instead, he was fired in 1957, for being homosexual.

Dwight Eisenhower had announced the policy in 1953, "The pervert is easy prey to the blackmailer," one person explained.

Or not. The Lavender Scare– a compelling documentary Tuesday on PBS at 9 p.m. ET (check local listings) – says there were no known cases of homosexuals revealing state secrets.

Still, the government pushed ahead, filing elaborate reports. The supposedly damning information about one woman was that she was "not at all feminine (and) uses very little lipstick."

Lavender Scarehas interviews, some relatively recent, with two of the people who worked those reports as well as some of the people who were fired – including Kameny, who died in 2011 at 86.

For his final 50-plus years, he didn't hold a job. Supported by family and friends, he backed others who had been fired, eventually winning. In 1995, Bill Clinton rescinded a policy that had been on the books for 42 years; later, Barack Obama and others praised Kameny as a civil-rights icon.

And one TV note: Lavender Scareshows up on a surprisingly good TV night. Remember when summer seemed confined to reality and reruns? By comparison, consider this June 18 line-up, a Mike Hughes set of Best Bets, if you will:

– 8 p.m. ET, Good Trouble, Freeform. Usually a good show, this time it offers a great episode, focusing on the verdict in the case of a cop who shot a black teenager. Boosted by a percussion soundtrack (part of a second storyline), it has a powerful impact.
– 9 p.m. ET, Lavender Scare, PBS.
– 10:30 p.m. ET, Alternatino with Arturo Castro, debut, Comedy Central. Castro is a Guatemalan native who does drama – he played the drug lord's son in Narcos– but does comedy brilliantly. If this opener is typical, we're looking at the next great sketch-comedy star.
– And, of course, Pose at 10 p.m. on FX. That's the show capturing the 1990 ball scene, a vibrant time for gays and transexuals. The series is richly crafted and makes us wish for time travel. That way, we could show it to all those 1950s investigators, thus causing their heads to explode.

 
 
 
 
 
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