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Gay Activist Frank Kameny's Home Declared Historic Landmark

Kameny

Gay rights activist Franklin Kameny's Washington D.C. home was declared a historic landmark yesterday:

Kameny2 "...not because of its gabled roof or side-hall plan, but because, for 13 fiery years, it was the epicenter of the gay rights movement in the nation's capital. It is the home of Franklin E. Kameny, 83, considered by academics and historians to be 'the father of gay activism,' according to the staff report by the Historic Preservation Review Board that recommended the designation. 'Today is D.C.'s recognition of his role, locally and nationally, in turning around discrimination against homosexuals,' said Mark Meinke, chairman of the Rainbow History Project and the driving force behind this architectural designation that has a far weightier social significance. Inside the house, Kameny led an unrelenting pursuit of equal rights for homosexuals long before Harvey Milk had even moved to San Francisco. A collection of Kameny's papers was admitted into the Library of Congress in October 2006, and some of his placards and buttons were put on display in the Smithsonian Museum of American History in 2007...The preservation board unanimously approved the designation yesterday. 'I think it will resonate well, not only with the whole gay community but with everybody,' said board Chairman Tersh Boasberg. 'Everybody will be able to appreciate how incredibly significant Dr. Kameny is.' It is unusual to designate a site as historic while its occupant still lives there."

The designation automatically nominates the site to be a nationally registered historic place.

Previously
Frank Kameny Gay Rights Items Join 'Treasures of American History' [tr]
Frank Rich and Frank Kameny: Pardon Larry Craig [tr]
Wingnuts Gear Up for Hate Campaign Against Library of Congress for Accepting Papers of Pioneering Gay Activist Frank Kameny [tr]

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Comments

  1. This is great and welcome news, and it's been in the works for several years. I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Kameny in the summer of 2004, and remember him mentioning then that this was in the works. Since then his papers and memorabilia have joined the Smithsonian collection.

    He's a brilliant, honorable and courageous man who given a lot and lost a lot fighting for us. It's wonderful to see him recognized.

    Posted by: Clay | Feb 27, 2009 9:06:37 AM


  2. The GLBT community has been very much a part of the preservation/community revitalization movement, and now we need to focus our attention on the preservation of the places where our history was (and is being) made. The Rainbow History Project in DC really pushed and fought and persevered to make this happen, and it had great allies with the D.C. Preservation League, as well as staff at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

    Think of all of the places in your individual communities where history was made, and work with preservation organizations to get them landmarked. There are sites across the country that certainly should be listed on the National Register of Historic Places; we just need to identify them, and work to get them listed.

    I hope that this designation of a GLBT historic place will be just the beginning of many other designations here in DC.

    Posted by: Free | Feb 27, 2009 9:44:13 AM


  3. The title should be:

    Father of the Gay Nation Frank Kameny's...."

    I don't get why they refer to only "13 fiery years," as Frank has been active in the movement for nearly half a century, and still is as much as his age will allow.

    He led the first pickets of the White House and State Department in 1965, when Johnson was President, struggling to survive sometimes on as little as 25 cents a day when there were no salaried gay activist positions [and by the time there were, the new "leaders" had cast him aside]

    Without him, and a handful of others, it is neither unrealistic nor disrespecful to say that there might never have been a Harvey Milk.

    It's past time there was a bust and movie in honor of Frank Kameny, too.


    Posted by: Michael Bedwell | Feb 27, 2009 1:24:07 PM


  4. Learn more at kamenypapers.org and write to thank Frank personally for the freedoms, however yet imperfect, you enjoy today:

    Frank Kameny
    5020 Cathedral Ave. NW
    Washington DC 20016

    Posted by: Michael Bedwell | Feb 27, 2009 1:46:30 PM


  5. I learned of Kameny reading John D'Emilio's Sexual Politics, Sexual Communities, when I was just coming out back in the early 80s. Glad to learn his invaluable contributions to American history are beginning to be recognized -- & celebrated!

    Posted by: Glenn I | Feb 27, 2009 2:05:19 PM


  6. I am overjoyed by this news because Frank Kameny is so little recognized or acknowledged for the incalculable contribution he made to the lives that we all live today.

    In October 2006 he was honored at the National HRC Dinner in Washington on the occasion of his papers being received by the Library of Congress. It was disheartening to see how perfunctory was the reception he received and how brief the applause because, as best I could determine, so few in the room knew, or could be bothered to listen and learn, about who he is.

    I feel that one of the great and distinguishing hallmarks of our civil rights movement has been its optimism and joy. Youth has often been at the center and set the tone for our community. But on that occasion, I don't think this now-middle-aged gay man was alone in feeling that the beautiful young things in the room--so busy socialising and talking over the speaker during the appreciation for Frank Kameny--were being unintentionally but nonetheless really disrespectful of a hero in our very midst and willfully ignorant of all he did to make it possible for the rest of us even to be able to organize and gather let alone wield real political clout.

    I was a little bit ashamed of the next generation of my community that night, but, then again, maybe I'm just getting old.

    Posted by: Hermes in DC | Feb 27, 2009 3:40:37 PM


  7. No, Hermes, it wasn't you. And though posts by some here often demonstrate how willfully ignorant of our history and focused on the superficial individuals can be on their own, HRC set that tone long ago, peaking that night when they threw a bone to Frank while elevating Reichen and Lance to demi god status.

    Posted by: Leland Frances | Feb 27, 2009 4:07:49 PM


  8. nothing to do with his accomplishmnts.

    much to do with egocentrict and intentionally deceptrive whining for phony
    heroism.

    His mother and sister supported him and bought him the house. no appreciation. no public or personal gratitude. just constant demands, abuse, refusal of all responsibilities. his sister supported him emotionally and finacially. He 'raped' her house until she died at 101.
    such a secret dark side.
    Honor him, if you wish, but be aware that he did a lot of damage and hurt on the way.

    Posted by: elsist | Mar 18, 2009 9:55:00 PM


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