Lavendar scare

The lavender scare was the investigation of homosexuals by their jobs and the government for being gay. Any small suspicion of homosexuality was looked into, and could lead to termination by employers and overall ostracization by society if the information were to become public. The lavender scare was related to the Cold War “Red Scare” as they both were utilized to to frighten people into submission during the Cold War. In the U.S. during the Cold War everyone wanted to prove themselves to be good, loyal Americans, and one could not be that while being communist or gay. Good, loyal Americans were strong and independent, and someone who was communist or gay could not be good Americans. The smearing of Sen. McCarthy’s credibility revealed that anticommunism and homophobia were connected as his reputation of being a strong American man, not communist, was harmed by being accused of being homosexual. Being communist and being homosexual were on the same level of things people could not be during the Cold War if they did not want to be suppressed or intimidated. 

Sexual innuendos are still used in politics today as a way to intimidate or shame political representatives. Often they are used to discredit a politician’s opinion on something dealing with homosexuality or femininity to simply belittle them. While there have been lots social movements aiming towards acceptance of the LGBTQ+, there is still a large stigma surrounding people in that group, especially when they become involved in politics. Their opinions are belittled or completely disregarded by other politicians because of their identity. Especially when it comes to males, there is still a stigma surrounding showing any type of femininity and as a result sexual innuendos get used against men when they do. Journalists or other politicians will still try and paint a picture against them of being “soft” or “too womanlike” to actually do their job in politics. This “softness” usually leads to innuendos about the individual being gay and leaves the feeling that their homosexuality is what makes them a bad politician. In politics today when a politician who is openly gay has something go wrong that is directly their fault or could have been their fault, some opposing politicians or journalists will try and make it seem like the wronging is a result of their homosexuality, instead of just a poor decision made. 

Hearing about how McCarthy had his political reputation tarnished by being accused indirectly and directly of being gay was very surprising to me. I have heard of him and how McCarthyism rose because of him and eventually he just lost his place in politics, but this was the first time I had ever heard of him being accused of having relations with another man. During the 1950s I can easily see how this would have destroyed his political career. If he did do the things he was accused of, it could make sense that he tried to overplay his “manliness” and love of women, guns, and patriotism in a way to overshadow that suspicion. I think that also directly relates to politicians today who are openly homophobic and who try to pass anti-lgbtq+ bills being found as having had past homosexual relationships or acts. This shows that our social view of politicians not being strictly heterosexual has not changed much, and there is still stigma and distrust around those who are not. 

2 thoughts on “Lavendar scare

  1. As you had stated, I have heard about McCarthy due to the idea of McCarthyism and the Red Scare dealing with the government removing the communists from office, but I had not heard about the Lavender Scare. For McCarthy, his goal was to remove anyone from office that would try to make the nation a communist society and in doing that it meant removing homosexual individuals as they were more likely to give in and be victims to blackmail. In his short time in office, he accused many people, but it was turned on him eventually and he was the one accused. I agree that sexual innuendos are still present today as there are still many laws and discrimination against homosexual individuals.


  2. Good post, Taya. Before we had our class lecture or read the article, I also hadn’t heard about these allegations against McCarthy. But they also didn’t surprise me. I hadn’t know much about McCarthy to begin with, but having a politician with homosexual allegations against them doesn’t seem that wild in todays society. So, I’m still trying to understand why it had been such a big deal, like Nick said in class today, it’s childish. I do like how you said it seemed like he tried to overplay his “manliness.” There have been many times when those are gay are in denial, are ashamed, or having a difficult time processing what it means to be homosexual have tended to assert their masculinity in an overdramatic way and push their discomfort onto others. Similar to how McCarthy had pushed to hard in connecting homosexuality to communism.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: