Sunday Matinee: The Lavender Scare [Film]



“With the United States gripped in the panic of the 1950s Cold War, President Dwight D. Eisenhower deemed homosexuals to be “security risks” and vowed to rid the federal government of all employees discovered to be gay or lesbian.  Over the next four decades,the longest witch-hunt in American history, tens of thousands of government workers would lose their jobs for no reason other than their sexual orientation.

But the mass firings have an unintended effect: they stirred outrage in the gay community, helped ignite the gay rights movement, and thrust an unlikely hero into the forefront of the LGBTQ fight for equality.Partly based on the award-winning book by historian David K. Johnson, THE LAVENDER SCARE  illuminates a little-known chapter of American history, and serves as a timely reminder of the value of vigilance and social action when civil liberties are under attack.” – Emma Griffiths PR



Strap in for something special Dear Readers. We have some things to talk about. The Lavender Scare is a film that has taught me so much about something that I quickly realized I was far too familiar with, but wasn’t entirely aware of as far as specifics and event details were concerned.

I will kick things off before getting on my soapbox about the details of the film by stating that The Lavender Scare is a very well made documentary that evokes a plethora of emotions ranging from pride, back to anger, and flips it all around back to complete amazement. But, let’s be honest, we have 24 time Emmy Award winning producer and broadcast executive Josh Howard running the show in his directorial debut, so the odds are that he could be making a documentary about the process of grass growth, and it was going to be well made, even if this is technically is directorial debut. Howard knows how to bring out the most in interview subjects, and move around their quotes to fit a narrative that not only moves the film along in a steady pace, but manages to hit all of the extremely important plot points of the film. Yes Folks, there truly is a narrative and a collection of plot points that need to be done just right even in a documentary. And Josh nailed them, because that is what he has been doing for many moons. The Lavender Scare is a brilliant film that you will surely find yourself lost within very quickly. Also the god damn QUEEN herself, Glenn Close, is narrating! There is no way this isn’t going to be a wonderfully made film!

Now, if I may casually wipe off my worn down Chuck Taylors and step upon my soap box decorated in purple velvet for such an occasion, I have a few things to say. First of all, I completely understand that the specifications of this film can be emphasized by the intolerant and insufferable section of a country completely devoid of human decency and dead set on widening the divide that already exists. I know this. The film focuses on the impact on government employees who are being outcasted and literally stricken of their livelihoods because of who they decide to love. But obviously, it is about so damn much more than this. Please be warned: I am about to say some of the most cliche shit that you have ever heard. But sometimes certain forms of rhetoric become “cliche” because they are absolutely true, and have to be reemphasized from time to time. So…why in the hell did it ever matter? The sexual orientation of a file clerk at the Department of Agriculture wouldn’t, didn’t, and never will affect the work that said employee would ever perform. What does it actually effect? Well, it effects the potential of what said file clerk could possibly accomplish, that nobody knew they could! This can be said about the women, black people, and any other person of color who was denied the opportunity to pursue their dreams based solely on the way the looked. Seriously Folks, just start to let your mind wonder about the lost potential that was driven by (predominately) asshat straight white male Americans who saw themselves as the superior beings and had an inability to see the potential good that was being disregarded.



I do feel the need to say that I have personally witnessed the impact that allowing openly gay humans to serve in the military and other government duties has had on the security to our nation. And in short: The impact is nothing. Absolutely NOTHING! And when I say nothing, I strictly mean nothing in the negative sense. There have been zero negative impact to ANYTHING! In fact, it could only be positive! The repeal of the absolute bullshit Don’t Ask Don’t Tell nonsense (which I know is praised in the film, but c’mon, what a cop out? I’ll buy a “good start” theory, but seriously?), quickly led me to having an openly gay boss in my day job, which happens to be for the government. And do you want to know what impact it had on me? NONE! He was just a nice person, a great person to work for, and who he decided to be romantic with in his off time had zero impact on how we accomplished our goals for the day. Actually, I met his husband on several occasions, and he was a very nice man! Imagine that Folks, they’re just people! As The Lavender Scare states several times, “the evidence did not exist” for disgusting people like Ike & Dick to present homosexuality as something to be feared. It was simply hate. No way around it. Hate has fueled the government’s actions since the beginning. Hate and Fear. The tides appear to be turning, but only time will tell if this is true.

Now, getting back to the film, shall we. As “woke” or down for the cause of human equality as I would like to believe that I am, I also have to be honest when I say that I learned ALOT in watching The Lavender Scare. I honestly did not know much about what was happening in this era beyond my love for The Beat Generation. My limited knowledge of the 1950’s was surrounding one specific group of people, who made it seem so glamorous to be young, broke, gay, alcoholic, what have you, during this time. I obviously had a lot to learn. One figure that I was particularly unaware of and is heavily showcased in this film was one Frank Kameny. What a hell of a guy, am I right? The fight that this man went through is absolutely incredible. But what struck me the most was the absolute pride he had in what he had accomplished. The man was, deservedly so, proud of himself for what he helped spearhead. And dammit, he deserved to be so proud! I have watched other documentaries where an actor may be talking the way Kameny did towards the end of his life, with pride over a TV series or a particular film, and it simply comes off as arrogant. But, in this case, Kameny deserves to have a very high level of positive arrogance for what he has accomplished. He is freaking HERO, if we have ever had one, and he deserves to be known as such.

I implore everyone to watch The Lavender Scare as soon as humanly possible. Follow the film around social media, do whatever you have to do to take in this masterpiece of a documentary with a very real and engaging message that needs to be spread amongst the masses. Just do it.



The Lavender Scare will open theatrically in New York (Cinema Village) and Los Angeles (Laemmle Music Hall) on Friday, June 7, 2019, timed to the 50-year anniversary of Stonewall, with a national release to follow. For more details, check out the film’s WEBSITE for further details. 


About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

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