I never knew about it this bit of Florida history. Fascinating! In the way looking at a snake is fascinating.

Regarding government employees and fear of blackmail, I can personally attest to how the lavender scare continued to have toxic effect right up through the 1990s. When I served in the Air Force in the 80s, I held a security clearance. To obtain it, I had to affirm that I was not a “homosexual,” and therefore potentially subject to blackmail.

To keep it, I had to pass the occasional polygraph test, during which the homosexual question was sure to come up.

To be sure, just being in the military while gay was not allowed, but standards of evidence for discharge were high, at least before Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. I didn’t worry about that. I DID worry about my clearance, a lot, because it could be pulled on pretty much a whim.

Without a clearance, I would have lost my job and had no effective career left.

That was one of the factors I weighed in deciding to leave the military in 1990, and I’m sure I’m not the only LGBTQ person who faced that choice because of a vestige of the lavender scare.

Written by

Writer. Runner. Marine. Airman. Former LGBTQ and HIV activist. Former ActUpNY and Queer Nation. Polyglot. Middle-aged, uppity faggot. jamesfinnwrites@gmail.com

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