The Foreign Service Journal, September 2022

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | SEPTEMBER 2022 61 AFSA NEWS “The Lavender Scare” Film Screening In honor of Pride Month, the Secretary’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion (S/ODI) hosted a June 29 screening of the film, “The Lavender Scare,” the first documentary to tell the story of a decades-long discriminatory campaign by the federal government that ultimately ignited the gay rights movement. The event began with a reception in the Delegates Lounge co-hosted by S/ODI, AFSA and glifaa, the organization that represents the LGBTQ+ community in the foreign affairs agencies. Attendees then moved to the Dean Acheson Auditorium to view the 75-minute film. Released in 2017 by Full Exposure Films, “The Laven- der Scare” begins during the height of the ColdWar. Presi- dent Dwight D. Eisenhower and Senator Joseph McCar- thy deemed homosexuals to be national security risks, triggering a witch hunt that lasted four decades. Thou- sands of government employ- ees suspected of being homosexual were systemati- cally fired and denied due pro- cess, with State Department employees at particular risk. It was not until one man, Frank Kameny, fought his dismissal and brought a civil rights claim before a U.S. court that the government’s discriminatory actions gained wider publicity and set in motion a civil rights move- ment. Despite this progress, vestiges of the anti-gay policy remained in force until Presi- dent Bill Clinton ended them in 1995. The screening was fol- lowed by a panel discussion featuring AFSA State Vice President TomYazdgerdi, Foreign Service Officer Virgil Carstens and historian David Johnson, who is interviewed extensively in the documen- tary and authored the book, The Lavender Scare (Univer- sity of Chicago Press, 2006), which served as the scholarly framework for the film. Johnson characterized the film and the events it exam- ines as “the story of paranoia that led to ruined careers as well as damaged and ended lives,” despite the fact that there was no evidence a gay man or lesbian had ever submitted to blackmail by a foreign agent. An important lesson that he draws from this painful period in history, he said, is that “activismmatters, and ultimately it was activism that ended the Lavender Scare.” Reflecting on his personal experience as a transgender man in the Foreign Service, Carstens pointed out the importance of fostering inclusive work environments in offices across the State Department to ensure all employees feel safe and valued. Yazdgerdi added that AFSA strongly supports measures to ensure that there is no dis- crimination against employ- ees in any of the foreign affairs agencies. “AFSA did not always hold the position it holds now,” he said. “But today we are proud to be a partner with glifaa in that effort.” Also on June 29, S/ODI hosted a virtual panel discus- sion “Advancing Equity for LGBTQI+ Persons at Home and Abroad,” featuring Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley, U.S. Special Envoy to Advance Human Rights of LGBTQI+ Persons Jessica Stern, Profes- sor David Johnson, Consul General Elizabeth K. Lee (from Consulate Thessaloniki) and S/ODI Senior Adviser Thomas Coleman. View the discussion at DEIA-advancing-equity. n FULLEXPOSUREFILMS AFSA Hosts Chiefs of Mission On June 22, AFSA hosted a breakfast for U.S. chiefs of mission who were in Wash- ington, D.C., for the State Department’s annual chiefs of mission conference. Some 25 ambassadors and chargés attended and contributed to a candid conversation about the most pressing challenges facing career ambassadors at posts around the world. AFSA President Eric Rubin welcomed attendees and reminded them that the association is here to help by advocating for the needs of Foreign Service members. The chiefs of mission expressed a range of con- cerns, including risk avoid- ance policies that hamper their team’s ability to engage bilaterally and conduct fieldwork; the overtask- ing of small posts that, in some regions, are often understaffed; and questions about changes to the Foreign Service Officer Test. They also pointed to ongoing issues that deplete morale at post, such as pay- roll problems and the CDC dog import ban that compli- cates travel for pet owners. AFSA will continue to monitor and seek to alleviate these and other issues affect- ing the Foreign Service. n