Full Exposure Films

The Lavender Scare

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Narrated by Glenn Close, The Lavender Scare is the first documentary film to tell the little-known story of an unrelenting campaign by the federal government to identify and fire all employees suspected of being homosexual.

In 1953, President Eisenhower declared gay men and lesbians to be a threat to the security of the country and therefore unfit for government service. In doing so, he triggered the longest witch hunt in American history. Over the next four decades, tens of thousands of government workers would lose their jobs for no reason other than their sexual orientation.


But the actions of the government had an unintended effect. They inadvertently helped ignite the gay rights movement.

In 1957, after thousands had lost their jobs, a Harvard-trained astronomer named Frank Kameny became the first person to fight his dismissal. His attempts to regain his job evolved into a lifelong fight for the rights of LGBTQ people.

The Lavender Scare is a compelling story of one man’s fight for justice. And it is a chilling reminder of how easy it can be, during a time of fear and uncertainty, to trample the rights of an entire class of people in the name of patriotism and national security.

  • Year
  • Runtime
    77 minutes
  • Language
  • Director
    Josh Howard, Jill M. Landes
  • Producer
    Josh Howard
  • Executive Producer
    Betsy West, Kevin Jennings, Andrew Tobias, Paul M. Austin
  • Cast
    Glenn Close, David Hyde Pierce, Cynthia Nixon, Zachary Quinto, T.R. Knight
  • Cinematographer
    Richard White
  • Editor
    Bruce Shaw
  • Composer
    Joel Goodman