The Lavender Scare blew wide open in the nation’s newspapers in March of 1950 when arch-conservative columnist George Sokolsky, an early admirer of Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-WI) and Roy Cohn, (pictured above) took to his column to blast the U.S. State Department, once again, for harboring “known Communists” and worse. HOMOSEXUALS!
When Maximillian Harden, the German journalist, called attention to a similar camarilla in the Kaiser’s court, involving Prince Eulenburg, it shocked and astonished the world. Yet, in this generation, in the United States, a charge that 91 employees of the state department were dismissed for being homosexuals passes with little excitement.
And so the Lavender Scare began.
The Lavender Scare is a rarely talked about but an important part of our history and the persecution we have endured. In the 1950’s during the anti-communist campaign known as McCarthyism. Gay men and lesbians were often considered “fellow travelers” of the communists, with McCarthy also charging not only that the government had been infiltrated by homosexuals, and that they posed a threat equally as grave to national security because gay men and lesbians could be blackmailed into revealing state secrets. The lavender scare began “may be seen as the time when homosexuals became the chief scapegoats of the Cold War because of fear, bigotry and hatred.
In 1950, the same year that Senator Joseph McCarthy claimed 205 communists were working in the State Department.
On April 19, 1950, the Republican National Chairman Guy George Gabrielson said that “sexual perverts who have infiltrated our Government in recent years” were perhaps as “dangerous as the actual Communists”.
On this day in 1895, British playwright Oscar Wilde was dining at the Albermarle Club in London when the Marquess of Queensbury left a calling card with the porter. It read, “To Oscar Wilde posing as a sodomoite.” The misspelling may have been the product of Queensbury’s rage over the relationship between Wilde and his son, Lord Alfred “Bosie” Douglas.
In the summer of 1891, Oscar met Lord Alfred ‘Bosie’ Douglas, the third son of the Marquis of Queensberry. Bosie was well acquainted with Oscar’s novel “Dorian Gray” and was an undergraduate at Oxford. They soon became lovers.
Queensbury had ferocious arguments with his son, trying to get him to stop seeing Wilde, but Bosie refused. Queensbury even threatened to go public with what he knew, but Bosie refused to back down. So on February 18, 1895, Queensbury followed through on his threat.
The United Nations General Assembly designated January 27—the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau—as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. On this annual day of commemoration, the UN urges every member state to honor the victims of the Nazi era and to develop educational programs to help prevent future genocides.
The Holocaust was the systematic, bureaucratic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of over six million Jews by the Nazi regime and its collaborators. Holocaust is a word of Greek origin meaning “sacrifice by fire.” The Nazis, who came to power in Germany in January 1933, believed that Germans were “racially superior” and that the Jews, deemed “inferior,” were an alien threat to the so-called German racial community.
But also as a part of the Nazis’ attempt to purify German society and propagate an “Aryan master race,” they condemned homosexuals as “socially aberrant.” Soon after taking office on January 30, 1933, Hitler banned all gay and lesbian organizations. Brownshirted storm troopers raided the institutions and gathering places of homosexuals. While this subculture had flourished in the relative freedom of the 1920s, Nazi tactics greatly weakened it and drove it underground.
Later, a harsher revision of Paragraph 175 of the Criminal Code went into effect, making a broad range of “lewd and lascivious” behavior between men illegal and punishable by imprisonment. The revision of Paragraph 175.
The Nazis believed that male homosexuals were weak, effeminate men who could not fight for the German nation. They saw homosexuals as unlikely to produce children and increase the German birthrate. The Nazis held that inferior races produced more children than “Aryans,” so anything that diminished Germany’s reproductive potential was considered a racial danger.
The police had powers to hold in protective custody or preventive arrest those deemed dangerous to Germany’s moral fiber, jailing indefinitely—without trial—anyone they chose. In addition, homosexual prisoners just released from jail were immediately re-arrested and sent to concentration camps if the police thought it likely that they would continue to engage in homosexual acts.
Jacopo Bonfadio was born in Garda, Italy in 1508 and was educated at Verona and Padua.
Beginning in 1532, he worked as secretary for various members of the clergy in Rome and Naples. In 1540, he gained employment in Padua with the son of Cardinal-humanist Pietro Bembo. While working for Bembo’s son, he met and became friends with notable humanists of the time and was a contemporary of Annibal Caro.
In 1541, Bonfadio among others, coined the term una terza natura, meaning ‘nature improved by art’, and subsequently, many designers utilized the concept. Large-scale views of the Medici villas, the grand vistas of Louis XIV, and the planning of 16th-century and later English country houses show how this idea was incorporated.
Bonfadio’s humanist views earned him some powerful enemies in Genoa. In 1550, after he had completed Annales Genuendis, ab anno 1528 recuperatae libertatis usque ad annum 1550 (his history of the Republic of Genoa from 1528 to 1550), his writings angered the powerful Genoese families the Dorias, the Adornos, the Spinolas, and the Fieschi, who sought revenge against him for daring to record and judge their actions. They proceeded to accuse him of sodomy, for which he was arrested, tried, and condemned to death.
Bonfadio was beheaded, and his body was burnt.
Unfortunately the minutes of his trial have been lost forever.
On May 13, 1920 Cyril Wilcox, a Harvard undergraduate, committed suicide after telling his older brother, George, that he had been having an affair with another man. Shortly after Cyril’s death, George intercepted two letters from a Harvard student and a recent graduate. George, a clerk at the granite mills in Fall River, decided to act. He tracked down his brother’s former lover, Harry Dreyfus, who lived in Boston. Dreyfus, after he was beaten by George Wilcox, denied responsibility for Cyril’s suicide but gave three names of other men involved: Roberts, Harvard Dental School student Eugene R. Cummings and Pat Courtney, a non-Harvard man living in Boston.
George took these letters to Harvard’s Acting Dean, Chester N Greenough, and shared with him what he knew. After consulting with Harvard President Abbot Lowell, Greenough formed a special five-man tribunal on this date in history which became known as the “Secret Court.”
The court launched a wide-ranging witch hunt, with Greenough summoning each witness one-by-one with a brief note. Thirty-seven men testified before the Court, including a tutor, an assistant professor, Harvard students, and several Boston men.
The Court’s inquiry was exhaustive, posing questions about masturbation practices, sex with women or men, cross-dressing, overnight guests, parties, and reading habits. The scope of the inquiry soon expanded to area businesses, cafés and bars. Eight students were expelled, ordered to leave Cambridge and reported to their families. They were also told that Harvard would disclose the reasons for their expulsion if employers or other schools sought references. Four others unconnected to Harvard were also deemed “guilty.” The school couldn’t punish them directly, but they did pressure one café to fire a waiter.
In 2002, a researcher from Harvard’s daily newspaper, The Crimson, came across a box of files labeled “Secret Court” in the University’s archives. After pressure from the newspaper staff the University finally released five hundred documents related to the Court’s work, and The Crimson published its findings in November of that year. Harvard’s president Lawrence H. Summers responded to the revelations, expressing deep regret for the anguish the students and families experienced.
Based on actual court documents, “Perkins 28” the video documentary below dramatizes the testimony from the Secret Court Files of 1920, Filmed in Cambridge, MA, and starring Harvard undergraduates.
On May 6, 1933, less than six months after Adolf Hitler and the Nazis had come to power, Nazi Youth of the Deutsche Studentenschaft made an organized attack on the Magnus Hirschfeld’s Institute of Sex Research
The works of Magnus Hirschfeld, the Jewish doctor and sexual reformer were hardly in line with Aryan ideas about the nation’s sex life: his model of intermediate sexual stages allowed room for homosexuality as well as for hermaphrodites or transvestites. He welcomed racial mixing as an enrichment of the diversity of human life. The Nazi reaction was unequivocal: “We will not have our people demoralized, so burn, Magnus Hirschfeld!”
On the night of May 10th. Hitler Youth and right-wing students in 34 university towns across Germany marched in torchlight parades “against the un-German spirit” and called for Nazi officials, university faculty and chaplains, and student leaders to address the participants and spectators. Then, singing songs and taking “fire oaths” as band music played, in large open-air bonfires, the students burned thousands of “un-German books,” taken in raids on public and university libraries, private collections, and bookstores. The events also received widespread media attention – not only newspaper coverage, but also “live” radio broadcasts of the songs and speeches.
The seemingly “spontaneous” demonstrations in Berlin were actually carefully orchestrated by Nazi leader Josef Goebbels, the Minister for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, as part of the Nazi policy of Gleichschaltung (“synchronization”), which sought to align all elements of German society, polity, and culture with Nazi ideology by purging them of Jews and those considered “politically suspect” and by defining their work as “degenerate.” 40,000 people gathered in the square at the State Opera to hear Joseph Goebbels deliver a fiery address: “No to decadence and moral corruption!” Goebbels enjoined the crowd. “Yes to decency and morality in family and state! I consign to the flames the writings of Heinrich Mann, Ernst Gläser, Erich Kästner.”
The era of extreme Jewish intellectualism is now at an end. The breakthrough of the German revolution has again cleared the way on the German path…The future German man will not just be a man of books, but a man of character. It is to this end that we want to educate you. As a young person, to already have the courage to face the pitiless glare, to overcome the fear of death, and to regain respect for death – this is the task of this young generation. And thus you do well in this midnight hour to commit to the flames the evil spirit of the past. This is a strong, great and symbolic deed – a deed which should document the following for the world to know – Here the intellectual foundation of the November Republic is sinking to the ground, but from this wreckage the phoenix of a new spirit will triumphantly rise.— Joseph Goebbels, Speech to the students in Berlin
“It is a quarter past midnight and I have just finished packing. In eight hours I am going to leave Berlin, perhaps for ever……. I have already made the journey several times in my head, composed funny postcards to all my friends. And now the day which seemed too good, too bad to be true, the day when I should leave Germany, has arrived, and I only know about the future that, however often and however variously I have imagined it to myself, the reality will be quite different.”
By the time of the book burning, Hirschfeld had left Germany for a speaking tour that took him around the world; he never returned to Germany.
On his 67th birthday, 14 May 1935, Hirschfeld died of a heart attack in his apartment at the Gloria Mansions I building at 63 Promenade des Anglais in Nice.
76 years after the destruction of Hirschfeld’s Institute of Sex Research in 2011, the Federal Cabinet of Germany granted 10 million euros to establish the Magnus Hirschfeld National Foundation (Bundesstiftung Magnus Hirschfeld), a foundation to support research and education about the life and work of Magnus Hirschfeld, the Nazi persecution of homosexuals, German LGBT culture and community, and ways to counteract prejudice against LGBT people.
The Flemish artist JérÃ´me Duquesnoy was, in his day, regarded as one of the finest sculptors of the seventeenth century. In 1644, Duquesnoy was commissioned to create statues for the nave of the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula in Brussels, and the following year he was appointed “architecte, statuaire et sculpteur de la Cour” to Archduke Leopold William, Regent of the Netherlands. it was during the time where he produced some of his most famous works, many of which depicted strong, muscled male figures in the Hellenic tradition.
In 1651, he became Court Architect and Sculptor, and in 1654 he went to Ghent to fulfill several commissions when he was accused of indecencies with his assistants. The Privy Council of Ghent convicted Duquesnoy of sodomy and sentenced him to death. He was bound to a stake in the Grain Market in the center of the city, strangled, and his body reduced to ashes. His reputation was destroyed and his memory repressed. It has only been recently that critical attention has returned to his work.
No law criminalizes homosexual conduct in Egypt. Instead, the government uses Law 10 of 1961 to prosecute suspected gay men. The law forbids prostitution and “debauchery,” and carries up to three years in prison and three years of supervised daily release.
Law 10 of 1961 prohibits inciting, soliciting, or maintaining premises for debauchery or prostitution. Article 9, for example, imposes:
– Punishment by imprisonment for a period not less than three months and not exceeding three years and a fine not less than 25 LE [Egyptian pounds, approximately $1.40 today] and not exceeding 300 LE in the Egyptian administration and not less than 250 Lira and not exceeding 3000 Lira in the Syrian administration or one of these two punishments applies in the following cases:
(a) Whoever lets or offers in whatever fashion a residence or place run for the purpose of debauchery or prostitution, or for the purpose of housing one or more persons, if they are to his knowledge practicing debauchery or prostitution.
(c) Whoever habitually engages in debauchery or prostitution.
It also permits that:
– Upon the apprehension of a person in the last category, it is permitted to send him for a medical examination. If it is discovered that he is carrying an infectious venereal disease, it is permitted to detain him in a therapeutic institute until his cure is completed.
Members of the Parliament of Egypt are vocally supportive of the government’s repression of the LGBT community, and some hope to see it increase. They have floated two new bills, one that will strengthen the existing debauchery and prostitution law by lengthening sentences and including messages on electronic media, and another that will outlaw homosexuality and increase sentences to five years. International human rights groups have condemned the bills.
The United Nations recently condemned crackdowns in Indonesia and Azerbaijan, as well as in Egypt. Even in Lebanon, perhaps the most gay-friendly Arab country, the police target the LGBT community. In Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen, homosexual acts are punishable by death.
MP Ryad Abdel Sattar on Wednesday introduced to the parliament’s speaker Ali Abdel Aal a draft law entailing five main articles of the criminalisation of homosexuality.
The draft law would pave the way for strict punitive measures against the LGBT community in Egypt, in addition to restricting the presence of LGBT People inside Egyptian society, Abdel Sattar said in media statements dedicated to local outlets.
The ‘Criminalisation of Homosexuality’ law has received approval from a number of the parliament’s members who asserted their readiness to approve it — the draft law is expected to be discussed inside the parliament after being reviewed by the speaker Ali Abdel Aal. – Pink Sixty
The “Arab Spring” uprising that toppled Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak in 2010 brought some respite for the city’s embattled LGBT community, whose members were able to socialize more openly at house parties and bars. And while homosexuality is not at this time a criminal offense in Egypt gay men and lesbians have been arrested at an alarming rate and charged with the crime of “Debauchery” at an alarming rate over the past year.
The first article defines homosexuality as any person engaging in sexual intercourse with someone of the same sex.
The second article clarified that any person engaging in homosexuality in a public or private place should be subjected to punitive action that should be no less than one-year and not exceeding three years in jail. It added that in case those jailed homosexual people repeated having sex after being freed, then the punitive action should be five years in jail.
The third article highlighted that any “supporter” of homosexuality or someone who calls for the acceptance of homosexuality, even if he or she is not a “practitioner of homosexuality,” should be jailed for no less than one year or no more than three years.
The fourth article paid attention to media coverage to parties organized by homosexual people, stipulating that any representatives of the media that “promotes” LGBT parties would be jailed for three years.
The United Nations has said it is worried over the growing trend of arrests of LGBT people across the Muslim world.
“We are deeply concerned about a wave of arrests in Azerbaijan, Egypt and Indonesia of more than 180 people perceived to be lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender,” said Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva.
Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood and his deputies arrested 18 men in a four-day sex sting in six public parks. Several Florida news outlets published all 18 mugshots along with names and places of residence for all arrested.
Said Chitwood in a news conference: “If you insist in going in our parks and trails and engage in this type of despicable behavior you may find yourself in handcuffs. It’s important that we set the tone that our parks and trails are safe for families.”
During the sting, undercover deputies sat on park benches and waited for the men to approach. According to the police reports, the men often steered the conversation to sex, began to rub the undercover deputies or expose their genitalia to them, and, in some cases, masturbate.
All the men were arrested and charged with indecent exposure in public and committing lewd acts, according to arrest records. Two men were also charged with battery, and one man was charged with battery only.
The men arrested ranged in age from 28 to 78, though the majority were middle-aged or older, Chitwood said. – The News Journal
The Daytona Beach News Journal‘s published a video of one man being arrested.