David K. Johnson

Professor of History, University of South Florida-Main Campus
Chapter Member: Florida SSN
Areas of Expertise:

About David

Johnson's research focuses on the political and social development of the LGBT community in the United States. A nationally recognized authority on LGBT history, Johnson has contributed to government reports and amicus briefs with document a history of discrimination and seek to expand civil rights protections and create a more inclusive educational curriculm.


In the News

Guest on Throughline, August 10, 2023.
Opinion: "The Shameful History of the Lavender Scare Echoes Today," David K. Johnson, The Washington Post, April 27, 2023.
Opinion: "Trump’s Pick for Intelligence Chief Represents a Step Forward for Gay Rights," David K. Johnson, Foreign Policy, February 26, 2020.


"The Lavender Scare" (The University of Chicago Press, 2023).

Tells the frightening story of how homosexuality was deemed as much of a national security threat as Communism during the Cold War era. Explores the potent political weaponization of allegations that the Roosevelt and Truman administrations were havens for homosexuals, leading to a lasting "Lavender Scare" more intense than McCarthy's Red Scare. Reconstructs the vibrant gay subculture in midcentury Washington and the devastating impact of anti-homosexual purges on the lives and careers of thousands of Americans.

"Buying Gay" (Columbia University Press, 2021).

Explores the lives of 'physique entrepreneurs', including photography studios, mail-order catalogs, and advertising targeted at gay audiences, emphasizing their significance in the gay rights movement. Demonstrates that physique magazines played a crucial role in fostering a gay community, challenging censorship laws, and paving the way for open expression, highlighting that gay commerce was not a byproduct but rather an important catalyst for the gay rights movement.