Film | Frank Kameny | News

Watch Gay Rights Pioneer Frank Kameny's Last Interview, from the Upcoming Doc 'Lavender Scare': VIDEO


Earlier this month I debuted some exclusive clips from The Lavender Scare, the documentary in progress chronicling the U.S. government's gay 'witch hunts' beginning in the 50's and 60's and efforts by early gay activists like the late Frank Kameny to put a stop to them.

FkThe filmmakers are funding the home stretch of their film via Kickstarter and are excited to debut another very special clip on Towleroad on what would have been Kameny's 88th birthday (May 21).

It's the last major interview Kameny did before his death in 2011 and also includes an audio clip of Frank's 96-year-old mother describing how horrified she was that he wanted to be an astronomer.

Filmmaker Josh Howard tells us:

Frank Kameny  didn’t plan on becoming a gay activist.  He was working as an astronomer for the U.S. Army Map Service, a job he loved.  Unfortunately, the government found out he was gay, and since President Eisenhower had ordered the dismissal of all gay and lesbian workers, Frank was fired.  But unlike the thousands of LGBT people that had been fired before him, Frank fought back.  His efforts to regain his job led him to spend the next five decades on the front lines of the fight for LGBT rights, recognized today as one of the founders of the movement.  Frank’s story is the focus of The Lavender Scare, an upcoming documentary about the government’s anti-gay witch hunts.  Here are some clips from Frank’s interview for The Lavender Scare, which was the last extensive filmed interview of his life.  They are being seen here for the first time.


You can check out the filmmakers' Kickstarter HERE.

And the film's official site HERE.

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  1. I met him once in 1976 at the University Of Maryland. He seemed genuinely dedicated to the next generations of gay people having a better life.

    Posted by: David Hearne | May 21, 2013 11:07:26 AM

  2. Fear not, New York! The Human Rights Campaign is writing a letter! So we've had a rally, we're getting a letter, the only left is a candle light vigil and we'll be exactly the whiny little weenies people expect us to be.

    Arm yourselves. Do not stand by and watch the gay community (or your parents, or friends, or the next generation, or the neighborhood you grew up in) attacked by the criminal evidence of the decay of society.

    Posted by: David Hearne | May 21, 2013 11:18:18 AM

  3. A very great and very brave man.

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | May 21, 2013 11:20:55 AM

  4. His work lives on

    Posted by: reality | May 21, 2013 11:55:19 AM

  5. What an amazing man. He was fortunate enough to be in the right place, at the right time to make a difference.

    Posted by: Howard | May 21, 2013 12:22:22 PM

  6. I was honored to know him, work with him, cook a Thanksgiving dinner with him one year in the home I then shared with his legendary protege the late Leonard Matlovich, and to take him to a GetEQUAL fundraisers a few months before he died where he was rightfully treated like royalty by activists a third his age.

    Attention President Obama: please posthumously award him the Presidential Medal of Freedom .

    Posted by: Michael Bedwell | May 21, 2013 12:25:32 PM

  7. Gallery of photos of Frank's life from WWII through his last year:

    Posted by: Michael Bedwell | May 21, 2013 1:23:03 PM

  8. While a brave and a great pioneer, the Mattachine Society's ties to communism and the American Communist Party will always be troubling aspect of Mr. Kameny legacy.

    Posted by: Ted B. (Charging Rhino) | May 21, 2013 1:36:50 PM

  9. True story:

    I have this vintage (early seventies) cheesy straight "mockumentary" porn film where Kameny is interviewed at length about homosexuality. This being a straight film, however, we only see a girl-girl scene intercut into the interview, because God forbid sexually insecure men accidentally get turned on by two guys having sex...

    Posted by: Jerry | May 21, 2013 2:07:32 PM

  10. @ Ted B: "ties to communism..." are absolutely NOT an "aspect of" Frank Kameny's legacy. Not only was Mattachine Society of Washington which he cofounded NOT a "chapter" of the original Mattachine founded in LA a decade before by SOME who did have SOME "communist ties," he didn't even want to include "Mattachine" in the name of the new group because he rejected its association with political passivity. But he was outvoted by his cofounders who felt that their group, however independent, would benefit from the name recognition "Mattachine" then had in the gay community. In fact, by that time, the few groups surviving around the country that had been once affiliated [though virtually all of them created AFTER the "purge" of the "communists" from the original group] had become independent, too.

    Posted by: Michael Bedwell | May 21, 2013 3:45:02 PM

  11. Frank confined himself for a long time to the issue of his own employment and federal policy. It was a narrow focus. Later on, others joined up with him and that broadened the movement, but it's always been a weakness of the gay rights cause that the individuals involved tended to have a very narrow focus for their activism. A documentary just about FK would be something of a lopsided disservice to others. He also had a habit of implying indirectly that he deserved all the credit for the gay rights movement, which is not true. If you don't believe me, watch his interviews where he goes on about being the "first" or "only" one doing anything. These two things are NOT true.

    Posted by: anon | May 21, 2013 7:23:42 PM

  12. What a fantastic pioneer for a fantastic community! SO proud to be gay and proud to be in a community with a hero like this man. RIP

    Posted by: Genuine 505 | May 21, 2013 8:18:29 PM

  13. @Michael Bedwell - you said it right - how great it would be to have him win the Medal of Freedom. We're all better because of him and others like him.

    Posted by: TyInTennn | May 21, 2013 8:43:42 PM

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