If all goes according to plan, the much-delayed James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will finally launch in October 2021, after the initial launch date of 2007. The Spitzer, which retired last year, and NASA’s flagship astrophysics mission Hubble.
However, for many this huge responsibility, which allows us to see more of humanity than we have ever seen before, is tainted by the legacy of bigotry of former NASA administrator James Webb, for whom the telescope was named. The JWST is originally known as the Next Generation Space Telescope. In 2002, it was named after Apollo 19 years after honoring him for running the neonatal space agency during the Apollo years from October 1968. Then in 2015, the role of the web in the so-called “Lavender Square” was published.
It was the state-sponsored anti-LGBT witch-hunt that removed gay and bisexual scientists and civil servants from U.S. federal jobs in the 1950s and ’60s, alongside McCarthy’s more well-known communist witch-hunt, “Red Square.” . Unders has facilitated and supported the discussion of the policy of compromise between US senators on the web itself. Recently, a detailed account of the damage done to the LGBTQ community has been published by cosmologist Dr. Chanda Prescode-Weinstein, astronomer Dr. Sarah Tuttle, astronomer Dr. Lucian Wacoiviz, and astronomer Dr. Brian Nordin.
This sentiment has been echoed by other eminent astronomers, including Phil Plate, and science communicators such as Matthew Francis. The problem is that not only is this its role in federal anti-LGBTQ policy, the web’s misogyny is also well documented. She deliberately excluded women from the astronaut program while she was NASA administrator. She also wrote an essay in 1980 entitled “Women Can’t Fight”. That historic year was the first time U.S. officers graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, where Webb was a professor at the time.
The influence of the web on the LGBTQ community has not spread throughout ancient history. While the issue of unfair representations or discrimination against stem LGBTQ people may not be at its doorstep, the consequences of the Lavender Fear continue today. As of June 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the Civil Rights Act protects LGBTQ + workers from discrimination on the basis of sex.
And it’s not just legal recognition that it lacks. In the scientific field, the scope of work has expanded towards members of the LGBTQ community. A study published in Science Progress earlier this year found that people in LGBTQ + Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) are more likely to be professionally underestimated, excluded, and harassed than sex workers of different sexes.