The Lavender Scare

The Lavender Scare began in the 1950s. The scare consisted of the removal of homosexuals from holding government jobs. Government agencies monitored/persecuted persons who were or were suspected of being homosexual. Many people who held government jobs were removed from their offices or pressured into leaving for “personal reasons.” Sen. McCarthy seemed to believe that gay men/women had a higher chance of being blackmailed into leaking government information. That’s why they were seen as a risk that had to be removed. It was during this time that the gay community was under attack. Although the active persecution was stopped around 1957, negative societal views remained, and can see be found in recent accounts.

The (second) red scare happened after WW2. The red scare dealt with the fear of communism spreading. During this time, government agencies had worked to expose those (who also worked within the government) suspected of having communist beliefs. I think it’s fair to say that the lavender scare fell under the umbrella of the red scare, and McCarthyism. There had been homophobic trends present before, but connecting to communism started the frenzy.

Sen. McCarthy had begun naming/listing other people, accusing them of being communist without having solid evidence. It wasn’t until he turned his attention to the army that he began being discredited. The Army-McCarthy hearings began when claimed that the US Army was filled with communists. During these hearing, Cohn and Schine’s “warmer relationship” (Friedman 2005) was brought up. Both Cohn and Schine worked under McCarthy. Cohn had been passionate per say when it came to defending Schine and protect him from certain military positions. Cohn had denied having homosexual feelings towards Schine but onlookers felt different towards his actions. During all of this, McCarthy himself had been indirectly accused of being a homosexual, considering his homophobic/anti-communist approach. Many reporters began saying that Cohn was, in a way, controlling McCarthy. All in all, homosexual allegations against McCarthy is what “smeared” his reputation. He had built up a case against homosexuals during a red scare and it was ultimately used against him.

In regard to this “are sexual innuendos still used in politics today” question, I believe they are. But, I do not think that “homosexual allegations” would weigh as heavy today and they had during the 50s. The gay community had in a way “gone underground” during that time and I strongly believe it had changed since then. There is an increasing amount of people in the political scene that are identifying as members of the LGTBQ+ community. A few examples include Zooey Zephyr, Joe Vogel, Tammy Baldwin, David Cicilline, and George Santos. While I’m sure there continue to be reporters/journalists and other representatives to use sexual innuendos against opponents,  I don’t believe they affects candidates in the same way and they used to. These folks have greater backing and support today and voters are able to see past sexual orientation to focus on other goals a person may have.

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