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Popular Topics in The Arts
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In Memoriam
 
In Memoriam: Frank Kameny
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 10/11/11
Last updated on: 10/16/11
 
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Frank Kameny.
Pioneering gay rights leader Frank Kameny passed away at his home in Washington, D.C. on October 11, 2011. He was one of the founding fathers of the American gay rights movement. He helped radicalize the homophile movement, preparing the way for the mass movement for equality initiated by the Stonewall Rebellion of 1969.

A victim of the McCarthy-era regulations that branded homosexuals as unfit for government employment, he fought tirelessly against discrimination against homosexuals on every front. Kameny and his friend Jack Nichols established the Mattachine Society of Washington, D. C. in August 1961. In opposition to many gay leaders at the time, Kameny embraced direct action. He believed that gay people should fight a "down-to-earth, grass-roots, sometimes tooth-and-nail battle" against discrimination.

He is credited with coining the slogan "Gay is Good." In recent years, Kameny received accolades for his heroic efforts to make America a more just nation. His house was designated an historic landmark by the D.C. Historic Preservation Board in 2009. In the same year, John Berry, Director of the Office of Personnel Management (formerly the Civil Service Commission), formally apologized to Kameny on behalf of the U.S. government for the "shameful action" of firing him in 1957. Berry also presented Kameny with the Theodore Roosevelt Award, the department's most prestigious honor.

As news of Kameny's death circulates, leaders of glbtq organizations have begun to laud his achievements. For example, Chuck Wolfe, CEO of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, said that "Dr. Kameny stood up for this community when doing so was considered unthinkable and even shocking, and he continued to do so throughout his life. He spoke with a clear voice and firm conviction about the humanity and dignity of people who were gay, long before it was safe for him to do so. All of us who today endeavor to complete the work he began a half century ago are indebted to Dr. Kameny and his remarkable bravery and commitment."

Dr. Kameny reminisces about his activism earlier this year in this video:

 
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