Analysis & Opinions - Inkstick

Making #NatSec More Inclusive

| June 28, 2022

The United States celebrates June as Pride month to commemorate the Stonewall Riots in June 1969 when police raided Stonewall Inn, a New York City bar frequented by the LGBTQI+ communities. While queer communities have overcome several obstacles to achieving equality and inclusivity, the US national security community is lagging. Three members of Foreign Policy for America’s NextGen Initiative highlight areas that the NatSec community should focus on.


During Pride Month this June, recognition of the importance of a diverse foreign policy and national security community is increasing at the highest levels, including through proposed legislation. The Lavender Offense Victim Exoneration Act of 2022 — also known as the LOVE Act — that Reps. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), David Cicilline (D-Calif.), and Dina Titus (D-Nev.) re-introduced last week would direct the State Department to review the wrongful terminations of up to 10,000 US federal employees who “were fired by reason of the[ir] sexual orientation.”

These McCarthy-era terminations, known collectively as the Lavender Scare, especially targeted federal workers in foreign policy and national security when homosexuality was considered an existential threat to homeland security. In his book “Secret City: The Hidden History of Gay Washington,” historian James Kirchick unearths thousands of stories of people in familiar roles — from legislative directors and speechwriters to legal counsels — “who chose to live their lives honestly” in a time when being out, outed, or even suspected precluded their public service. From the more well-known names of Frank KamenyBayard Rustin, and Lilly Vincenz to public servants whose names had been buried in history, Kirchick asks and answers the harrowing question: “How did people like me, interested in politics and public policy, survive at a time when a core aspect of their very being was considered a mortal danger to the country?”

Thanks in large part to these public servants and civic activists across the district, there have been some major wins at the federal level for the LGBTQI+ community — from gay marriage to workplace anti-discrimination measures. But for the national security establishment, concrete policy measures, starting but not ending with the LOVE Act, are urgently needed to redress past wrongs committed against LGBTQI+ employees. And in the face of severe threats to Americans’ basic rights, immediate and forward-looking measures must ensure that LGBTQI+ public servants, foreign policy experts, civil society members, and political leaders have a secure place in the national security field. Important initiatives like Out in National Security and the Mattachine Society of Washington, DC elevate and archive LGBTQI+ voices in federal politics and foreign policy making. But there’s still room for even more intersectional, equity-focused campaigns, like Pay Your Interns, which works to reduce internship barriers for students from historically excluded communities.

About This Analysis & Opinions

Making #NatSec More Inclusive
For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Klyman, Kevin.“Making #NatSec More Inclusive.” Inkstick, June 28, 2022.

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