We owe an enormous debt to Frank Kameny. He was a trailblazer, a visionary, and he gave us all hope when there was no reason for any.
Mr. Kameny was one of the founding members of the Mattachine Society of Washington D.C.
His conscious decision to live his life openly, and to lead through his activism should be a beacon with which we continue to strive to achieve the goal of rights for all people. For a life of humanity to be granted not to a few, but to every one of us. No matter our color, our religion, nor who we love.
Mr. Kameny lived in a time that our kind was to be shunned. Ours was truly the love that dare not peak its name in his youth. Anyone willing to take such a courageous stand should be well honored, nay revered by those of us who have so richly benefited by his life.
time in which he lived held incredible advances, and crushing defeats.
But through it all he held to his beliefs and his convictions and
inspired new generations to stand and demand their human rights. He
risked imprisonment simply because of who he loved and that he was
willing to take a stand against the inherent oppression in our society.
possible we should all stand, our hands over our hearts, and observe a
moment of silence during his funeral. He helped us all.
Frank Kameny was a man. He was also a hero. He died on National Coming Out Day.
Longtime gay activist Frank Kameny dies
October 11, 2011 |
The death came less than a month before the planned celebration of the 50th anniversary of Kameny’s founding of the Mattachine Society of Washington, the first gay rights organization in the nation’s capital.
LGBT rights advocates Charles Francis and Bob Witeck, who were longtime friends of Kameny’s and established the project to preserve Kameny’s papers over a 50-year period, said they would be announcing soon plans for a memorial service to honor the gay rights leader’s life.
Timothy Clark, Kameny’s tenant, said he found Kameny unconscious and unresponsive in his bed shortly after 5 p.m. on Tuesday. Clark called 911 police emergency and rescue workers determined that Kameny had passed away earlier, most likely in his sleep. Clark said he had spoken with Kameny shortly before midnight on the previous day and Kameny didn’t seem to be in distress.
Kameny is credited with being one of the leading strategists for the early gay rights movement — beginning shortly before the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York’s Greenwich Village and continuing afterward.
Born and raised in New York City, Kameny served in combat as an Army soldier in World War II in Europe. After the war, Kameny obtained a doctorate degree in astronomy from Harvard University.
He went on to work as an astronomer for the U.S. Army map service in the 1950s and was fired after authorities discovered he was gay. He contested the firing and appealed his case to the U.S. Supreme Court, becoming the first known gay person to file a gay-related case before the high court. The Supreme Court upheld the lower court ruling against Kameny and declined to hear the case, but Kameny’s decision to appeal the case through the court system motivated him to become a lifelong advocate on behalf on LGBT equality.
Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said Kameny “led an extraordinary life marked by heroic activism that set a path for the modern LGBT civil rights movement.”
“From his early days fighting institutionalized discrimination in the federal workforce, Dr. Kameny taught us all that ‘Gay is Good,’” Solmonese said. “As we say goodbye to this trailblazer on National Coming Out Day, we remember the remarkable power we all have to change the world by living our lives like Frank — openly, honestly and authentically.”
Chuck Wolfe, CEO of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, said Kameny’s death marked the “loss of a hero and a founding father of the fight to end discrimination against LGBT people.”
“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,” Wolfe said. “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.”
Chad Griffin, board president for the American Federation for Equal Rights, the organization behind the federal lawsuit against Proposition 8, said “America has lost a hero” with the passing of Kameny.
“Out and proud, Frank Kameny was fighting for equality long before the rest of us knew we could.” Griffin added. “Because there was one Frank Kameny, trailblazing and honest enough to speak out 50 years ago, there are now millions of Americans, coming out, speaking out and fighting for their basic civil rights. His is a legacy of bravery and tremendous impact and will live on in the hearts and minds of every American who values equality and justice.”