The Lavender Scare

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Videos & Photos

  • Official Trailer 2
  • Official trailer

Movie Info & Cast


With the United States gripped in the panic of the 1950s Cold War, President Dwight D. Eisenhower deemed homosexuals to be "security risks" and vowed to rid the federal government of all employees discovered to be gay or lesbian. Over the next four decades,the longest witch-hunt in American history, tens of thousands of government workers would lose their jobs for no reason other than their sexual orientation. But the mass firings have an unintended effect: they stirred outrage in the gay community, helped ignite the gay rights movement, and thrust an unlikely hero into the forefront of the LGBTQ fight for equality.Partly based on the award-winning book by historian David K. Johnson, THE LAVENDER SCARE illuminates a little-known chapter of American history, and serves as a timely reminder of the value of vigilance and social action when civil liberties are under attack.


  • Glenn Close
  • John D'Emilio
  • Lillian Faderman
  • David Hyde Pierce
  • David K. Johnson
  • T.R. Knight
  • Cynthia Nixon
  • Zachary Quinto

Atom User Reviews

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Jun 13, 2019

The Lavender Scare is essential to watch and an excellently produced documentary about a time the communist threat overshadowed the so-called “gay threat” from our history books.

Metacritic review by Alan Ng
Alan Ng
Film Threat
Jun 6, 2019

Running a brisk 75 minutes, this is one of those rare documentaries that feels too short. Some of its stories could have been more fleshed out, greater historical context could have been provided, and its use of such musical selections as Bob Dylan's The Times They Are a-Changin' and Cyndi Lauper's True Colors are beyond cliche. But these are small quibbles about a film that should be essential viewing in these times when intolerance is on the rise.

Metacritic review by Frank Scheck
Frank Scheck
The Hollywood Reporter
Jun 4, 2019

A compact and fairly well-made documentary.

Metacritic review by Dan Callahan
Dan Callahan