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A Government ‘Scare’ They Don’t Teach In History Class

Brenna Berry Photography
Cast of 'Perfect Arrangement,' a story about the witch hunt carried out against gays in government service and the creative works it inspired.

In 1953 President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued an executive order that banned homosexuals from holding jobs in the federal government or receiving a security clearance. 

Over the next few decades, more than 10,000 suspected gay and lesbian individuals were fired from their jobs or forced to resign, thanks to tactics reminiscent of the anti-Communist Red Scare unfolding concurrently. This little-known history served as creative fodder for Josh Howard, producer and director of the documentary film “The Lavender Scare,” and Topher Payne, playwright of “Perfect Arrangement.”

Host Frank Stasio talks with Howard, Payne, and actors Benoit Sabourin and Lauren Knott about the witch hunt carried out against homosexuals in government service and the creative works it inspired. “Perfect Arrangement” is on stage at Raleigh Little Theater from Oct. 27 through Nov. 12.  

Jennifer Brookland is the American Homefront Project Veterans Reporting Fellow. She covers stories about the military and veterans as well as issues affecting the people and places of North Carolina.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.
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