On this day April 27, 1953, President Dwight Eisenhower signs Executive Order 10450, banning anyone identified as threats to national security including those with criminal records, alcoholics, and “sex perverts”–to be excluded or terminated from federal employment.. The Order lists homosexuals as security risks, along with alcoholics and neurotics.
This was one of Eisenhower’s first official duties after being elected.
This Executive Order was tied to the McCarthy era Red Scare, the search for Communists who had supposedly infiltrated American society. The purging of homosexuals and lesbians from the federal government became known as the Lavender Scare, thousands and thousands of people were fired from their jobs simply because of their sexual orientation
The rational was that “perverts” — the word The New York Times freely used as a synonym for homosexuals — were a threat to the security of the country because their immoral lifestyle left them susceptible to blackmail by foreign agents, who would presumably induce them to reveal sensitive government information in exchange for avoiding exposure.
The anti-gay frenzy ignited by the government did far more than just deprive these men and women of jobs; it drove many to suicide and cemented homophobic stereotypes that persisted for decades in the American consciousness
Ironically on the same date April 27, nineteen years later in 1972 testifying before Congress, FBI Director and notorious closet case J. Edgar Hoover assured the House Appropriations Committee that there are no gay activists in the Bureau, saying “We don’t allow any types of activists in the FBI, gay or otherwise. I ask not for average personnel but for those above average in character, education, and personal appearance.”
We must all remain diligent.
If it happened once. It could happen again.