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social sciences

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Kameny, Frank (1925-2011)  
 
page: 1  2  

In addition to battling discrimination in civil service employment, Kameny also sought to challenge the negative images of homosexuals prevalent in the 1960s. Toward that goal, he coined the slogan "Gay is Good." The slogan was later adopted by the 1968 North American Conference of Homophile Organizations (NACHO).

In 1971 Kameny participated in the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association, where he accused psychiatrists of victimizing gay men and women with their unscientific theories of homosexuality. He urged the APA to remove homosexuality from its list of psychiatric illnesses, which the organization eventually did in 1973.

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In 1971, Kameny became the first openly gay person to run for congress. Competing for D. C.'s non-voting seat in the House of Representatives, Kameny came in fourth among six candidates. He used the campaign to call attention to the inequities experienced by homosexuals in a country in which the government "wages a relentless war against us."

Kameny was also a cofounder of the National Gay Task Force and the Gay Rights National Lobby. In 1975, he was appointed a Commissioner of the D. C. Commission on Human Rights, becoming the first openly gay municipal appointee. He also personally drafted the bill that repealed D. C.'s law, which was finally enacted in 1993.

In his later years, Kameny finally received the recognition he deserved, not only from the glbtq community, but from the United States itself. In 2006, for example, the Library of Congress acquired Kameny's papers; and in 2007 the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History featured the picket signs he carried in front of the White House in 1965 in its exhibit "Treasures of American History."

In February 2009, Kameny's home in Washington was designated as a D.C. Historic Landmark by the District of Columbia's Historic Preservation Review Board.

Perhaps most gratifying of all, on June 29, 2009, John Berry, Director of the Office of Personnel Management in the Obama administration, formally apologized to Kameny on behalf of the U.S. government. Berry, who is openly gay, characterized the government's firing of him as a "shameful action," and also presented Kameny with the Theodore Roosevelt Award, the department's most prestigious award.

Kameny passed away at his home in Washington, D.C. on October 11, 2011. His death was greeted with many tributes from glbtq leaders. For example, Chuck Wolfe 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."

Craig Kaczorowski

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    Bibliography
   

D'Emilio, John. Sexual Politics, Sexual Communities: The Making of a Homosexual Minority in the United States, 1940-1970. Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1983.

Johnson, David. "Frank Kameny." Leaders from the 1960s: A Biographical Sourcebook of American Activism. David DeLeon, ed. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1994. 253-60.

_____. "Homosexual Citizens: Washington's Gay Community Confronts the Civil Service." Washington History 6 (Fall/Winter, 1994/95): 45-63.

Marcus, Eric. Making History: The Half-Century Fight for Lesbian and Gay Equal Rights. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2002.

Naff, Kevin. "Gov't Apologizes to Kameny." washingtonblade.com (June 24, 2009): http://www.washblade.com/blog/blog.cfm?blog_id=25888.

 

    Citation Information
         
    Author: Kaczorowski, Craig  
    Entry Title: Kameny, Frank  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
 
    Publication Date: 2004  
    Date Last Updated October 12, 2011  
    Web Address www.glbtq.com/social-sciences/kameny_f.html  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
 
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2004, glbtq, inc.  
 

 

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