NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has been named after James Webb, who ran the US space agency from 1961 to 1968, and allegedly had a role to play in the “Lavender Scare” at NASA.
What was the Lavender Scare?
- The Lavender Scare was the marginalisation of LGBTQ employees working in the US government’s offices during the 1950s and 1960s.
- It is often described as a “witch-hunt”, where those suspected of being from the LGBTQ community were fired from their jobs.
- One such case was of NASA’s Clifford Norton, reported the Guardian.
- Norton was fired in 1963 for “immoral, indecent, and disgraceful conduct” after being interrogated for allegedly being a homosexual man.
- The common perception at the time of those in the US administration, and in society at large, was that homosexuality and queerness were linked to a lack of morals or perversion.
Who was James Webb and what was his role?
- James Webb, as the head of NASA during that period, is alleged to have played a role in the dismissal of LGBTQ employees for their identity.
- In 2021, four astronomers in the US wrote about the demand for renaming the telescope in ‘Scientific American’.
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