Frank Kameny | News | Science

Asteroid Named To Honor Gay Rights Pioneer Frank Kameny

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Legendary gay activist Frank Kameny soars above us as we speak. Kameny, a former government astronomer whose 1957 firing led to a lifetime of equality activism, died last year, but an amateur star watcher from Canada decided to keep his high-flying legacy alive by naming Minor Planet 40463 after the New York City native.

Fox News reports that the astronomer, a man named Gary Billings, was inspired after reading Kameny's obituary last year, and after some discussion with his peers, ultimately decided the asteroid should be called "Frankkameny." It's traveling too fast through space for a space between the names. Either that or that's just celestial parlance.

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  1. I bet Kameny would have loved that.

    Posted by: The Milkman | Jul 10, 2012 2:09:03 PM


  2. Magnificent! Few know that Frank imagined being an astronaut someday...before his career was shot down by government homophobia during the "Lavender Scare." But astronomy's loss was the gain of every LGBT person living today whose degree of liberty can be traced to him more than any other single individual.

    "“In World War II, petitioner did not hesitate to fight the Germans, with bullets, in order to help preserve his rights and freedoms and liberties, and those of others. In 1960, it is ironically necessary that he fight the Americans, with words, in order to preserve, against a tyrannical government, some of those same rights, freedoms and liberties, for himself and others. … The government's entire set of policies and practices in this field is bankrupt, and needs a searching reassessment and re-evaluation ... The government’s policies…are a stench in the nostrils of decent people, an offense against morality, an abandonment of reason, an affront to human dignity, an improper restraint upon proper freedom and liberty, a disgrace to any civilized society, and a violation of all that this nation stands for.” - Frank Kameny, 1961, in his unprecedented brief to the Supreme Court appealing his firing.

    "We are dealing with an opposition which manifests itself—not always, but not infrequently—as a ruthless, unscrupulous foe who will give no quarter and to whom any standards of fair play are meaningless. Let us respond realistically. We are not playing a gentlemanly game of tiddly-winks or croquet or chess.” - Frank Kameny, 1964 historic call-to-arms speech to Mattachine NY.

    "[My client] served honorably in the Armed Services of this country. We did not do so in order that our government—or any agent or officer of it—might disparage our people, by which we mean our fellow American homosexuals, or our way of life—to our faces, or behind our backs. We are fully as entitled to our dignity, and to the respect of our government as the homosexual citizens that we are, as are all other American citizens. ... In the past, we have remained silent when [antigay] remarks were made. We do not intend to continue so. If any such remarks are made, the proceedings will be halted on the spot and will not continue until the remarks have been retracted and apologized for. You and your colleagues elsewhere in this Department have been placed on notice." - Frank Kameny, 1969 Defense Department civilian security clearance hearing.


    Posted by: Michael Bedwell | Jul 10, 2012 3:26:29 PM


  3. Nice!

    Posted by: James C | Jul 10, 2012 3:31:39 PM


  4. "But astronomy's loss was the gain of every LGBT person living today whose degree of liberty can be traced to him more than any other single individual"

    Who do you think founded the Mattachine Society that Komeny was addressing 1964? Harry Hay was leading the Mattachine Society in 1950 while Kameny was still just another student at Harvard getting a degree, I think that's overstating things quite a bit.

    Posted by: Henry Holland | Jul 10, 2012 4:23:56 PM


  5. Oh dammit! I should give him the respect of spelling his name right in the first mention: Mr. KAmeny.

    Posted by: Henry Holland | Jul 10, 2012 4:25:40 PM


  6. Harry Hay may have pioneered Mattachine, but astronomer and soldier Frank Kameny gave it gravitas and visibility beyond the borders of New York. Best actor to portray him in a biopic: Josh Lucas.

    Posted by: Manny Espinola | Jul 10, 2012 10:23:44 PM


  7. I did not know he had been an astonomer, But Frank factored large in my younger gay life. My parter was stationed at the Pentagon and we were living on Fort Belvior in VA. I was ostensibly there to watch his children as their mother was institutionalized in CA. One day she showed up on post thinking the three of us and two kids were all going to live on Post in everlasting harmony. She threatened to out my partner and destroy his career. We called up Frank and he advised us to get the hell out of Virgina, where they could have taken the kids away from us. Some of the best advise for all generations. We ended up living on Capital Hill in Washington DC where the laws protected us.
    I will be thankful for Frank to the end of days.

    Posted by: Greg McNeal | Jul 10, 2012 10:51:43 PM


  8. "Harry Hay may have pioneered Mattachine, but astronomer and soldier Frank Kameny gave it gravitas and visibility beyond the borders of New York"

    [rolls eyes] The Mattachine Society was founded in Los Angeles, about 10 minutes from where I'm sitting, the Los Angeles chapter did most of the pioneering work for which the group is known, what the hell does Manhattan have to do with it?

    Posted by: Henry Holland | Jul 11, 2012 2:21:39 PM


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