Most people are passingly aware of the “Red Scare,” the frenzied hunt for suspected Communists that gripped America in the ‘40s and '50s. But a less-reported aspect of this era was the government’s parallel fear of homosexuals. Yep, at the very same time Senator Joseph McCarthy was braying like a donkey about the prevalence of Commies in the State Department, the government was also on the hunt for anyone with a hint of the gay about them. For instance, in 1950, the State Department forced 91 of their homosexual employees to resign, lest their gayness spread through the government like wildfire.
The fear wasn’t strictly that these people were gay, but that gay people were more susceptible to blackmail, and therefore a much bigger security risk. The logic was that a homosexual member of the State Department would voluntarily give up state secrets if someone threatened to out them. So the obvious solution was to fire them all, because that certainly wouldn’t create any disgruntled potential intelligence assets. This whole debacle was dubbed “The Lavender Scare,” and wouldn’t you know it, Senator Joe McCarthy was up to his ears in it as well.