In the 1950s, Senator Joseph McCarthy was searching the country for suspected communists during the Red Scare. But what many people don’t know is that along with communism, ”sexual perversion” was also seen as a threat to national security. As a result, thousands of LGBTQ people, in all levels of government, were investigated — and many were outed, fired, or forced to resign.
In this episode of the StoryCorps podcast, you’ll hear the story of Bobby Cutler, who served during the Eisenhower administration as the first U.S. National Security Advisor. Cutler is the man behind Executive Order 10450, which led to a culture of fear and repression for LGBTQ people, or what we now know as the Lavender Scare.
But Cutler’s role in the Lavender Scare was unknown for years. Cutler died in 1974, and we’ll hear from Peter Shinkle, Bobby Cutler’s great nephew, who discovered this and more when he read his great uncle’s diaries decades later.
We’ll also hear from colleagues and friends of Cutler’s. Steve Benedict worked in the White House with Cutler. Steve also introduces us to another friend and colleague of Cutler’s, Skip Koons. We’ll then hear from Ed Glazbrook, who was Skip Koons’s partner for 36 years, until Koons’s death in 2005.
Finally, we’ll hear about how LGBTQ people outside of the government dealt with discrimination in the workplace. Dick Titus and Zeek Taylor have been together for nearly 50 years, but when they moved to Fayetteville, Arkansas in 1975, they went to great lengths to hide their relationship so Dick could stay employed.
Top photo: Artwork by Michael Caines.
Second photo: Peter Shinkle and Steve Benedict at their StoryCorps interview in Gettysburg, PA. By Jud Esty-Kendall.
Third photo: Skip Koons (above left) with Bobby Cutler (above right). Courtesy of Peter Shinkle.
Fourth photo: Skip Koons at the American Embassy in Paris shortly before he resigned after coming under investigation for his homosexuality. Courtesy of Ed Glazbrook.
Fifth photo: Peter Shinkle with Ed Glazbrook at their StoryCorps interview in New York City, New York. By Rochelle Kwan.
Bottom photo: Dick Titus and Zeek Taylor at their StoryCorps interview in 2015 in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. By Natalia Fidelholtz.
Special thanks to the Department of Special Collections and University Archives, Marquette University Libraries for the archival audio of Senator Joseph McCarthy. To hear a longer portion of this audio, visit the library’s website. For more information about the Lavender Scare, Peter Shinkle wrote a book, Ike’s Mystery Man, about Bobby Cutler’s life and involvement in the Lavender Scare.
Released on July 9th, 2019.