Pink Perils and Postwar Blues. Homophobia and Early Cold War Culture in Western Europe (1945-1965). 01/10/2016 - 31/08/2020


As has been demonstrated by recent research, a wave of homophobia known as the 'lavender scare' hit the United States in the aftermath of the Second World War. A similar lavender scare affected Western Europe during the early Cold War era, but to date no study exists that investigates (a) how it affected various European countries differently, (b) to what extent this was a transnational phenomenon galvanized by the growing Americanization of European society, and (c) in what ways it was related to broader social and cultural changes on both the national and the international level. Primarily using a combination of criminological and so-called 'homophile' journals emanating from a selection of West European countries (i.e. the Netherlands, Belgium, France, West-Germany, Switzerland and Austria), this project sets out to answer the question of how and why homosexuality became the focus of intensive scrutiny during the period between 1945 and 1965. By means of an NVivo-database, the aim is to develop an integrated picture of how the fear of homosexuals fitted within a broader array of fears that haunted societies destabilized by war and anxious to regain their equilibrium in a rapidly changing world.


Research team(s)

Project type(s)

  • Research Project