Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Frank Kameny

Today Frank Kameny died at age 86. I won’t list his entire history here—his Wikipedia profile is actually pretty good. But he was, in many ways, the original gay activist. When he was fired from his government job in 1957 for being gay, as so many gay people were in those days, he fought back and became the first to take a case to the US Supreme Court.

He was involved in many other firsts, too, and seemed to have a pretty good sense of humour. I guess you had to in those days.

I didn’t come out until some 20 years after Frank lost his Supreme Court challenge, but when I did, one of the first things I did was read all the gay history (and literature) I could find, and Frank Kameny was one of the people I read about.

My entire activist career was made possible by folks like Frank, just as I helped pave the way for those who followed me, all of us linked in an ever-lengthening chain. But we all stood on the shoulders of folks like Frank, Harry Hay and the other pioneers of the modern GLBT rights movement.

Because of his history and legacy, it’s deeply ironic that Frank should die on October 11 (US time), because that’s National Coming Out Day.

I feel a deep personal sense of thanks and gratitude to Frank Kameny for helping to make things better for me and every other GLBT American. Rest well, Frank: You earned it.

Update: The blog of The Smithsonian's National Museum of American History has published a post, "Remembering Frank Kameny, civil rights pioneer". Nice.

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