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The Lavender Scare: Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians

January 17, 2019 @ 10:00 am - 8:30 pm


Type: Informational

This Event:
* Has LGBTQ content
* May be of interest to the LGBTQ community

As 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?”

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. Historian David K. Johnson will relate the frightening, untold story of how, during the Cold War, homosexuals were considered as dangerous a threat to national security as Communists.

Museum Members $5 | Non-Members $8
• The Ladies that Broke the Blacklist
• McCarthy and the Hollywood Blacklist: Parallel Delusions
• Victim and Villain: Jewish Responses to the Red Scare
• Hollywood on Trial with Tony Kahn
• The Lavender Scare: Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians
• Hollywood’s Friendly Witness: Elia Kazan
Museum Members $12.00 | Non-members $20.00

A screening of the documentary film The Lavender Scare will be presented by Milwaukee LGBT Film/Video Festival at the UWM Union Theater (2200 E. Kenwood Blvd.) on Thursday, November 8 at 7:00 pm.

David K. Johnson (Ph.D. Northwestern) is an Associate Professor in the history department at the University of South Florida. His first book, The Lavender Scare: The Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Government, (University of Chicago, 2004) won three awards, including the Herbert Hoover Book Award and the Randy Shilts Award for Gay Nonfiction. A documentary film version of The Lavender Scare by Emmy-award winning director Josh Howard appeared last year at over fifty film festivals and won over a dozen best documentary awards. Johnson also co-edited The U.S. Since 1945: A Documentary Reader (Wiley-Blackwell, 2009), an anthology of primary source documents for students studying modern American politics and culture.

A nationally recognized authority on LGBT history, Johnson has contributed to numerous reports, including the National Park Service’s LGBTQ America: A Theme Study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer History; Making the Framework FAIR for the California Department of Education; and Historians of Anti-Gay Discrimination Brief to the U.S. Court of Appeals in several same-sex marriage cases.

Sponsored by Cream City Foundation. Offered in connection with Blacklist: Hollywood’s Red Scare, an exhibit on display at the Jewish Museum Milwaukee, October 12, 2018 – February 10, 2019.


January 17, 2019
10:00 am - 8:30 pm
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Cream City Foundation
(414) 225-0244


Jewish Museum Milwaukee
1360 N Prospect Ave
Milwaukee, WI 53202 United States
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