A story of grit and courage and the fight of FRabklin Kameny
June 8, 2019
'The Lavender Scare' comes out in a small, art cinema in Greenwich Village (where else during 50 anniversary of Stonewall?).
Almost 70 years ago the red and lavender scare broke out on the American body political.
The US broke out in a fever that saw a Red (Soviet) agent under one's bed; and an easy targets for blackmail as Eisenhower announced to a joint session of the Houses of Congress, were homosexuals, perverts and other odd sexual birds.
And this began a 'scandal time', as the playwright Lillian Hellman succinctly named it.
The FBI ruthlessly ferreted out, in the thousands, 'deviants', who were forced to resign, not to make waves as they were forced from the government force.
The Red scare attacked the State Department, mainly for losing China; but the larger blood letting in the diplomatic corps fell on homosexuals (male or female) ; the scientific community wasn't spared, nor the economic branches of the economy nor the postal services and, of course, the military. They adopted quietism as a defense as they tried to go on with their lives. The more frail psychologically took to suicide. These victims faded into the woodwork.
The documentary has historical footage and interviews of victims now in the twilight of life; they created new lives. And since the 1960s breathing easier thanks to Gay Liberation and the shifting in social attitudes of the large society.
Still, those cashiered out of governmental service never had status 'rectified' until teh Clinton presidency. Many by then had died, nursing a a deep hurt.
The narrative comes to life with the 'grandfather of the gay movement' in the person of Franklin E. Kameny, Harvard Ph.D. in astromy. He had dreams of being an astronaut, but the 'thought police' quashed that.
But Dr. Kameny was made of different mettle; he refused to take this bitter medicine that kept him from a life-time in astronomy. Two feet planted firmly on the ground, steeled in determination, he challenged the government: he wrote letters, seized the courts, wrote newspapers, and never denied he was a homosexual. And then he joined the Mattachine Society, and founded the Washington Chapter, infusing it with grit and determination. At first few in number, he drew up models of conduct: white shirts, ties and suits for men aznd dresses and pumps for women. Why? His idea was to show that homsexual looked and acted like everyone else, but their love desire was the same sex.
And this on the eve of the tumultuous '60s and war in Vietnam and revlution ins sexual behavior.
Pining the tail on the government's donkey, he and a handful of Mattachine poicketed the White House, calling for recignition and scotching the dread 'Lander rules' that automatically axes government employees.
The Mattachine Society, under Kameny, vocal and never slack in his determination in his belief that if the government had to come to him by changing rules and attitude. During the Vietnam War say the Mattachine Society provided a way out of the draft, as many young homosexual came out in numbers, therby being rejected by draft boards.
After Stonewall, and coming out decade before AIDS, the newly liberated younger, 'hipper' gays criticized the Mattachine Society as throwbacks. But Kameny kept to his goal in couseling and fighting for purging of records and restoring dignity to thos wilfully fired by the uS government services.
A long, uphill struggle under Clinton signed a proclamation. And the gay movement got sense in recignizing the determined struggle of Kameny before and after Stonewall.
And the crowning achievement came under obama when Franklin Kameny was welcomed in the Oval Officc.
Truly after almost 60 years..it was a moment that showed if the prohet wont' come to the mountain, the mountain would come to the prophet. (He died at the age of 86 in 2011, as resolutely in his opinions as he was as a newly minted Harvard Ph.D., who never denied ot himself, his parents nor in his life that he was a homosexual. A man of boldness and coyrage who carried on the good fight.