Parents' Guide to

The Lavender Scare

By Jeffrey Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Powerful docu about LGBTQ persecution by U.S. government.

Movie NR 2019 76 minutes
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Josh Howard's brief, simple documentary covers some ground that will be familiar to many, but when it gets to the heart of things, its stories are undeniably enraging, moving, and inspiring. Experts interviewed in The Lavender Scare explain the challenge of looking back at this shameful part of history: The men and women accused of being homosexual frequently disappeared, choosing to avoid persecution. "They had you over a barrel," one man says sadly. So there are relatively few subjects on record.

One woman, Joan Cassidy, had her dream career in the Navy Reserve and was being considered for admiral. She would have been the first woman to achieve that rank, but she decided to turn it down for fear of being discovered. And Carl Rizzi lost his job at the U.S. Postal Service after being photographed in drag. It wasn't until the seemingly fearless Kameny -- a great interviewee who was luckily captured on film before he passed away in 2011 -- began writing letters and organizing protests that there was finally hope. The Lavender Scare can't avoid including subjects like Sen. Joseph McCarthy's witch hunts and the Stonewall riots, which have already been covered in many other films. And the voices of name actors (Glenn Close, David Hyde Pierce, etc.) don't add much. But it's shocking to learn how this sinister chapter in American history was allowed to go on for so long, so quietly. And it's essential information to have today.

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