America’s Cold War Empire: Exporting the Lavender Scare

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Book Chapter

Publication Date



homophobic panic, American Cold War, security concerns, gays, lesbians, United Nations, International Monetary Fund, World Bank

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)



This chapter analyzes how a fear of homosexuals characterized American Cold War security concerns, leading to the establishment of policies, procedures, and personnel throughout the U.S. government to uncover and remove all suspected gays and lesbians from public service. This state-sponsored homophobic panic was exported to America's Western allies and international organizations such as the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank. The chapter shows how U.S. officials pressured foreign officials and the heads of international organizations to adopt American-style security procedures and purge their agencies of anyone guilty of homosexual conduct. Fearing the loss of either American financial aid or contact with the U.S. intelligence-gathering apparatus, most sought to comply.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

America’s Cold War Empire: Exporting the Lavender Scare, in M. L. Weiss & M. J. Bosia (Eds.), Global Homophobia: States, Movements, and the Politics of Oppression, University of Illinois Press, p. 55-74