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The Lavender Scare (2017)

2:09 | Trailer
With the United States gripped in the panic of the Cold War, President Dwight D. Eisenhower deems homosexuals to be "security risks" and orders the immediate firing of any government ... See full summary »


Josh Howard


David K. Johnson (book)
11 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Glenn Close ... Herself - Narrator (voice)
David Hyde Pierce ... Himself - Reader of Frank Kameny's Letters (voice)
Cynthia Nixon ... Herself - Reader of Madeleine Tress' Materials (voice)
Zachary Quinto ... Himself - Reader of Dennis Flinn's Materials (voice)
T.R. Knight ... Himself - Reader of Drew Ference's Letters (voice)
David George David George ... (voice)
Tom Knight Tom Knight ... (voice)
John Piatek John Piatek ... (voice)
Kevan Rabat Kevan Rabat ... (voice)
Artie Widgery Artie Widgery ... (voice)
Dwight D. Eisenhower ... Himself (archive footage)
Joseph McCarthy ... Himself (archive footage)
David K. Johnson ... Himself (as David Johnson)
John Hanes John Hanes ... Himself (as John W. Hanes Jr.)
John D'Emilio ... Himself


With the United States gripped in the panic of the Cold War, President Dwight D. Eisenhower deems homosexuals to be "security risks" and orders the immediate firing of any government employee discovered to be gay or lesbian. It triggers a vicious witch hunt that lasts for forty years and ruins thousands of lives, while thrusting an unlikely hero into the forefront of what would become the modern LGBT rights movement.

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Official Sites:

Official site | Official site





Release Date:

7 June 2019 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Full Exposure Films See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs



Color | Black and White (archive footage)
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Features Boys Beware (1961) See more »

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User Reviews

An astounding warning for our times--and for all times
29 November 2017 | by perryjonatSee all my reviews

This film is beautifully constructed, with a strong narrative through-line composed of innovative and multi-faceted elements. Moreover, its subject-matter could hardly be more timely and relevant for today's LGBTQ community—and far beyond that, as it can be appreciated by any group that has been placed under the inquisitors' lens at any moment in history. The most creative aspect of this highly original production is the focus on the collateral damage of this governmentally directed purge—in the forms of shattered careers and, especially, broken families. It is a rare storyteller who can focus on the missed opportunities for career advancement as a significant loss for these individuals and for our country generally. (It would be really interesting, I think, to follow up this documentary with another that could assess the damage of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' on US national security in the past few decades, as, for one example, the firing of dozens of gay military linguists specializing in Arabic and Farsi in the years immediately preceding and following 9/11.) The film reaches its emotional height in the gripping stories of the suicide, likely as a direct result of a homophobic investigation, of Drew Ference, and then of the devastating toll this loss took on his family. The witness of Jen Stotka, Ference's niece, proves that the effects of this witch hunt have continued to ripple through the lives of thousands of American citizens, up to the present day of supposed 'equality'. The film concludes with a direct and prescient warning about the potential backlash facing this community in today's America, namely the removal of Secretary of State Kerry's apology to those damaged by the Lavender Scare from the Department's website within the first week of the Trump presidency. This move comes in the same year as Prime Minister Trudeau's formal apology and offer of compensation to Canadian citizens who were similarly targeted in his country. This breathtaking and bracing film perfectly demonstrates the validity of a statement on Peggy Guggenheim's property in Venice: "Savor kindness, because cruelty is always possible later."

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