Friday, 29 May 2009

261: The Lavender Scare

"Gay Ordeal"
in "The Realist"
By Paul Krassner?

I am somewhat unproud of the U.S. State Department’s recent disclosure that, out of eighteen security-risk employees who resigned under investigatory pressure last year, sixteen had been charged with homosexuality

“Hotchkins, you’ve been a faithful employee here for quite a few years now, but we have reason to believe that you’re a homosexual.”
“Why, sir, that’s not true.”
“We all have our problems, Hotchkins, it’s nothing to be ashamed of. But I’m afraid that a security investigation is necessarily called for.”
“But even if it were true, sir, hasn’t my loyalty always been above question.”
“Yes, but there is a new factor now: the possibility of blackmailing you.”
“Well, the secret is out now – who would they tell?”
“Me, of course. You don’t want your employer to know you’re a homosexual, do you? So you might very well give out secret information to avoid that.”
“Yes, sir, I see your logic. If only there was some way I could prove. . .”
“Now, Hotchkins, you must try to take this like – oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it that way.”
“Sir, I really hate to have to do this to you, but you leave me no alternative. There’s something about me that I’d like you to ask your wife tonight . . .”


A nearly contemporaneous American response to British concerns about homosexuals as security risks, now known as “The Lavender Scare”. All the same arguments, and again this has the same usual punchline of a proof of heterosexual prowess as the pay-off. I’ve only seen the cover to the American satirical magazine “Monocle’s” “Special CIA Issue” but it prominently features the question: “What Does The CIA Have To Say About Sex Perversion In Its Own Ranks?” so obviously America was suffering some of the same anxieties that Britain suffered over Vassall.

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