Frank Kameny Oct 11, 2011 22:00:12 GMT -5
Post by bluepride on Oct 11, 2011 22:00:12 GMT -5
Frank Kameny dies; leading gay rights leader was 86
Frank Kameny, 86, one of the leading figures of the gay rights movement in the Washington area and the nation, was found dead Oct. 11 at his home in Northwest Washington.
His death was confirmed by Charles Francis, a founder of the Kameny Papers Project, and by Marvin Carter, a longtime friend. No cause of death could be learned immediately.
Mr. Kameny, a Harvard PhD whose homosexuality reportedly led to his discharge from a federal government job, lived to see his years of determined advocacy rewarded by the success of many of his campaigns and by his ultimate welcome by a political establishment that rejected him.
His death, apparently on National Coming Out Day, came in a year when gay people were accorded the right to serve openly in the armed forces, and D.C. Council member David A. Catania (I-At Large) noted this Tuesday night.
In his efforts throughout the years, Mr. Kameny was one of the fathers of that achievement, said Catania, the first openly gay man elected to the D.C. Council. Mr. Kameny had himself been a U.S. Army veteran who had served in Europe in World War II.
In what appeared to be one of the great triumphs of his uphill struggle, the protest signs that Kameny carried in front of the White House were put on display in the Smithsonian Institution in recent years, along with the museum’s other artifacts and symbols of the course of American history.
Mr. Kameny was generally credited as an originator of the slogan “Gay Is Good.” Those words symbolized not only his skill at advoacy, but they also the beliefs that he championed.
In numerous ways over the years, starting at a time when those openly asserting their homosexuality could place themselves in physical jeopardy, Mr. Kameny worked to increase the acceptance of gay people in mainstream American society and to recognize their rights.
Rather than shrink from revealing his sexual orientation, Mr. Kameny made it plain. He won attention and respect by the vigorous campaign he waged 40 years ago for election as the District’s non-voting delegate to Congress.
“Out for Good,” a history of the gay rights movement in the United States, made Mr. Kameny the central figure in several chapters.
One of the book’s co-authors, Dudley Clendinen has called him an “authentic hero” of American culture. In summarizing Mr. Kameny’s precarious position after the loss of his job, Clendinen noted that he subsisted on a diet of baked beans. But, the author said, “he didn’t despair.”
Known for his outspokenly militant tactics and his refusal to confine himself to bland and apologetic statements, Mr. Kameny was credited with playing an important part in the achievement of what were regarded as several signal milestones passed by gay people on the road to full inclusion in American society.
Read article: Frank Kameny dies; leading gay rights leader was 86
To call Mr. Kameny a pioneer would be a gross understatement. He was a Founding Father of our community in the 20th Century. Many of the things we take for granted today are in place because of Frank Kameny.