I know it’s extremely early to be talking about next summer, but as the weather gets colder here in Ohio, I’m already starting to long for Summer 2012. And for more reasons than one, as it’s also the slated release date for the new documentary “The Lavender Scare,” a real life suspense thriller about the men and woman effected by Executive Order 10450, which prohibited gays and lesbians from working for the federal government in the ’50s and ’60s.
Here’s a synopsis from the film’s Web site:
“The Lavender Scare” is the first feature-length documentary film to tell the story of the U.S. government’s ruthless campaign in the 1950s and ’60s to hunt down and fire every Federal employee it suspected was gay.
While the McCarthy Era is remembered as the time of the Red Scare, the headline-grabbing hunt for Communists in the United States, it was the Lavender Scare, a vicious and vehement purge of homosexuals, which lasted longer and ruined many more lives.
Before it was over, more than 10,000 Federal employees lost their jobs. Based on the award-winning book by historian David K. Johnson, “The Lavender Scare” shines a light on a chapter of American history that has never received the attention it deserves.
It examines the tactics used by the government to identify homosexuals, and takes audiences inside interrogation rooms where gay men and women were subjected to grueling questioning. These stories are told through the first-hand accounts of the people who experienced them.
“The Lavender Scare” shows how the government’s actions ignited an anti-gay frenzy that spread throughout the country, in an era in which The New York Times used the words “homosexual” and “pervert” interchangeably, and public service films warned that homosexuality was a dangerous, contagious disease.
While the story is at times infuriating and heartbreaking, its underlying message is uplifting and inspiring. Instead of destroying American homosexuals, the actions of the government had the opposite effect: they stirred a sense of outrage and activism that helped ignite the gay rights movement.
I know it makes me a huge nerd, but I’m too excited about this film. I’ve heard Johnson’s book (which you can purchase here) is pretty amazing, but I think it’s going to be pretty powerful to hear about this massive injustice from the mouths of those who actually lived it. The film also includes annonymous interviews with some of the bigoted officials who actually did the ousting, which I think is an extremely interesting side of the story to highlight. And also featured is famed gay rights activist Dr. Franklin Kameny who was honored by President Obama just a few years ago for his work fighting to have Executive Order 10450 repealed (which it was in 1995).
The film’s creators, led by writer/director Josh Howard, released a full length trailer for the documentary back in July. You can check it out below: