Aaron Perry Hill

Job title: 
Class of 2023
2023 Percy Undergraduate Grant

I am a fourth-year student, originally from Forest Falls, California. I am a History major and Public Policy minor. The decision to pursue such coursework was fueled by my passion for the improvement of our Republic, something I have pursued via campaigning at the local, state, and national political levels. While this work has been illuminating, it has also convinced me that elected office is not for me. Instead, I hope to attend law school and begin a career in housing law in government or a non-profit organization. I am optimistic that my varied experiences at Cal, be they classwork or my time as Editor in Chief for the Berkeley Political Review, will enable me to find success on this career path. After graduation, I will be working as a Teach for America fellow for two years in Massachusetts’s South Coast region, teaching high school History and/or English.

My research is being completed as part of the History Department’s Senior Honors Thesis program, under the supervision of Professor David Henkin. I am studying the Lavender Scare, a political phenomenon in the United States that roughly coincided with the Second Red Scare, but which extended temporally before and after that McCarthyist period. While the Second Red Scare focused on alleged Communists in government, the Lavender Scare was a witch hunt that targeted allegedly queer individuals, primarily homosexual men in the federal government. My research in particular seeks to push the investigation of the Lavender Scare outside the bounds of the federal government, where it has thus far been largely confined to. Specifically, my research is focusing on the public rhetoric that fueled the Lavender Scare within the State of California in the 1950s and 1960s. Drawing on strong research foundations laid by Drs. David K. Johnson and Nan Boyd in their books The Lavender Scare and Wide-Open Town, among others, I have sought to find the specific ways in which federal anti-queer sentiments and policies were manifested at the state level or otherwise influenced state politicians. This has included extensive research within the California State Archives and our university’s own Bancroft Library, where I have examined records of the Senior Armed Forces Disciplinary Control Board, California State Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, the California State Board of Equalization, and other agencies. Though a seemingly disparate array of institutions, the evidence suggests that these were the key elements of the government in California responsible for queer persecution in the period, with one of the key battlegrounds being the bars and clubs that formed the foundation of the queer community at the time. Beyond these agencies, my research has and will be searching the records of key political figures of the period including Governors Goodwin Knight and Edmund “Pat” Brown, as well as decisions from the state judiciary, to see how such persecution was justified when discussed in public.

Research interests: 

Major(s): History 

Minor(s): Public Policy