Privacy: Then & Now



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sven swanson

What a waste of talented people's lives. We really have not moved that far from the 1960's with today's invasion of privacy for the greater good of Homeland Security! My mail was stamped back in the early '60s, as shown in the film. It was frightening that I was being watched, that I had done something bad, yet all I had done was love other young men with my eyes. I so tried to develop my body, as those I admired. But I was too young, until later, to build my body.


Interesting program, but have to complain that the program says that SMITH COLLEGE is an IVY LEAGUE School. It isn't. How could they not know that?

Frank X. Mahoney

The three principals had skills, resources and support. I can't help wondering what happened to the "four other local men".

Connell O'Donovan
Santa Cruz CA

The online autobiography of Joel Dorius ("My Four Lives") was purchased by me from the web hosting company Joel had used until his death. After I secured the rights to post it online, I gave them to the support group, Affirmation: Gay and Lesbian Mormons.

His memoirs are now posted on their site at:

It is our hope that no more LGBT Mormons have to suffer ecclesiastical oppression as Joel did, and in fact, as I did.

Effie Stewart

I just loved the program re the pink scare....what a tribute to 2 very wonderful, brave men. I was so sad to learn that Joel Dorius is indeed a comfort to know that such people live on this earth as mentors for us all. Thank you for your sacrifices in bringing this story to life on PBS.

Dave C.
Lancaster, California

The Great Pink Scare is an excellent film. Too bad it isn't showing to a wider audiance. Times and mores do change as time marches on. This might be a non-story if it happened to day, or would it? I think that if any school administration found out that one of their teachers was in the posession of pornography of any kind they might be dismissed for breach of their morals clause. Fear causes administrations to behave in strange ways. Does anyone know the name of the news caster. I used to watch him all the time . . . George Putnam! Anyway I enjoyed it.

Mark M.
Dallas, TX

I was both moved and fascinated by the documentary. While watching, I could not help but see parallels between Arvin betraying his 2 friends in desperation and some Jewish people during WWII betraying other Jews to save their families. No one knows how he will react when "hunted" until it happens. We all hope that we would have the strength to do the right thing. Even better would be to live in a society that does not tolerate persecution, legally or morally. We have come a long way in 40 years. We still have a long way to go.

Jack Spencer
Henry TN.

One of the most important films I have seen in the last ten years. It made me reevaluate some of my conditioned thinking about gay people. It is the incident portrayed in the film, that created the culture, that allows those attitudes to exist. Some today favor a return to those oppresive times, albet they have never really ended for those, with an alternitive lifestlye.
Those who would favor an assalt on privcy, and campaign against gay civil rights need to watch this film. It may just give them the compassion to see as I now see.

nashville tn

It is interesting how the cosmos revolves. Some twenty years ago i was discharged from the U.S. Navy for being Gay. In a Few days My best Straight friend from those days is retiring from the Military service. I was struck with memories of my own being witchhunted, and arrested as i watched this program. I am proud that PBS.Org is still free enough to produce and publish such programs. Thank you sincerely

heather k

I was struck by the courage of the two men telling their stories, as well as the quiet direction of the filmmakers. In trying to tell a friend about it today, I had to stop myself mid-story because, while I could relay the facts, I couldn�t possibly convey the emotion and tone captured in the film. Both the story itself and the treatment by the filmmakers were remarkable. It was truly captivating.

Joseph Hill
Worcester, MA

Things have changed considerably since this "incident" came to light so many years ago. Still, there is entirely too much ignorance about the issues involved--privacy rights and homophobia.

So many times, I hear people say things like, "Why don't these people just keep it to themselves? Who cares what people do in the privacy of their own bedrooms?" The sad fact is that many people apparently DO care, and they see nothing wrong with invading the privacy of anyone whose life they consider unconventional or "odd".

After viewing this film, people should no longer question why gay/Lesbian/Queer people MUST come out of the closet...for their own sake and for the sake of a society that otherwise will remain ignorant of the challenges of growing up gay.

Nancy G
Lafayette, IN

This was an excellent film. It depicts a time when persons who were different were hounded by the sanctimonious. Are we far from that now? How much longer will it take before it will be acknowledged that homosexuality is not a choice?

tom netting

I found myself inspired by the courage of the professors in your film. I find it to grasp that they were thought to be unworthy of their chosen profession because of their sexual preference.I wish that i could shake their hand, or better yet, give them a hug. Affection and love are so much stronger than hate. I feel that they may have started the walk on the path to acceptance for the Gay,Lesbian, and transgender communities.I salute them for making my life as a gay man easier ans abit more accepting in society. We have to champion what they have started.

Paul Crowley
Santa Clara, CA

In response to one person's query, Joel's book is entitled 'My Four Lives: An Academic Life Shattered by Scandal.' A limited number of copies was published by Country Press, Lakeville, MA, but this printing received no distribution. During Joel's lifetime the entire book was on a website,, but has since been removed. I am hoping that one day some publisher will be willing to publish the book, perhaps in a somewhat edited format.

Alice Adams
Austin, TX

Your film presents a compelling chronology of a shameful time in American history. During the film, it was mentioned that Mr. Dorius had written a book about the experience. Could you please forward the name of this book. I am interested in learning more.

Thanks for your belief that this film should be made and offered to the people of this nation. It is my hope we will not repeat this type of behavior...toward any group...again.

Martha Garvey

I was deeply moved by this documentary--outraged by the waste of these three men's lives, and inspired by Spofford's and Dorius' resilience despite terribly dark days. When are we going to learn that any and all bias rob our world blind?

John Snellgrove
Tulsa, Oklahoma

As a person who is very interested in documentary filmmaking, I wanted to watch the film to examine and learn from the techniques used. On this level I thought it was very well constructed and the story well told. However, I wasn't sure the topic would draw me in. I was wrong! From the first few minutes I was captivated. I was very moved by the ordeal these men suffered and the tragic consequences for their lives and careers. I have been reaching for a deeper understanding of social justice issues in our society. There are so many issues that are pressing for attention. This film has given me a greater sensitivity to the challenges faced by the homosexual community. Thank you for telling this story!

Anna Whalley
Memphis, Tennessee

Thank you for this thought provoking program. I was especially struck by the fact that professors who were sleeping with co-eds at Smith were never "outed" but the two charming gentlemen profiled in this story were. I hope that participating in your piece was liberating for them.

David Miller
Chandler, Oklahoma

The progress on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender rights over the past forty odd years has been remarkable. No longer is the GLBT community living in the shadows, but out showing their pride in their family, community, state, and the nation. While there are many obstacles ahead, progress has been made. The sad part that the documentary reveals the utter devestation of hard working, dedicated citizens. Their lives were destroyed simply for being homosexual. What a tragedy.

Melba Vickery
Sierra Vista Arizona

There's a direct link between that invasion of privacy and today's politico/legal climate. The film achieves its goal for viewers with an open mind, but some will always insist that homosexuality is a sin and a felony.I never knew about the atrocities perpetrated against those innocent professors until tonight. The USPS has no right to censor our mail. As a nurse, I am convinced that sexuality is inborn, not a choice of lifestyle, even though some psychiatrists of the '30s through the'50s considered homosexuals as possibly "curable" with psychiatric treatment.I knew one famous psychiatrist with that erroneus opinion!

Mary Culver
Deerfield, Massachusetts

It's funny how stories that seem so far from my own can hit home. I cannot identify with so much of the torment experienced by these men, but I felt validated when they expressed their fear of the world, an after effect of the violations to their lives. Diagnosed with a mental illness several years ago, I finally left my teaching position once I understood, in horror, the discrimination and ignorance exhibited by my administrators as they assigned me to an out-of-the-classroom position once they learned of my "condition."

While it may be true, as stated in the film, that homosexuality gains greater and greater acceptance with the passing of decades, hurdles undoubtedly remain. And while mental illness is an entirely different identity, in my opinion and experience, it feels as closeted as ever.


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