Frank Kameny Hub

Home of Frank Kameny and Meeting Place for D.C. Mattachine Society Listed in National Historic Register


The home of pioneering LGBT rights activist Frank Kameny, which in February 2009 was declared a District of Columbia Historic Landmark, has now been listed in the National Register of Historic Places, according to an announcement from the National Park Service:

KamenyIn 1961 Kameny co-founded the Mattachine Society of Washington, an organization committed, through activism to achieving equal social and legal rights for homosexuals. Through lobbying of government officials, testifying before congressional committees, bringing court challenges, and picketing the White House, Kameny and his allies pressured the U.S. Civil Service Commission to eventually abandon its policy of denying homosexuals federal employment. Kameny led efforts to remove homosexuality as a basis for denying government security clearances. He was also involved in the first legal challenge to the U.S. military’s policy of discharging gay and lesbian service members, including the much-publicized case of gay Air Force Sergeant Leonard Matlovich. Kameny played a leading role in attacking the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) definition of homosexuality as a mental illness. In 1973, the APA voted to remove homosexuality from its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Psychiatric Disorders. In 1998, President Clinton signed an Executive Order banning discrimination in federal employment based upon sexual orientation.

For years, Dr. Kameny’s residence at 5020 Cathedral Avenue, NW, in Washington, DC, served as a meeting place, archives, informal counseling center, headquarters of the Mattachine Society, and a safe haven for visiting gay and lesbian activists. It was here that Dr. Franklin E. Kameny developed the civil rights strategies and tactics that have come to define the modern gay rights movement. 

Kameny died in October at the age of 86.

Obama White House Has No Comments On Kameny's Death

JayCarneyThe Washington Blade caught Jay Carney, the White House press spokesman, in an unusually flat-footed moment when seeking the president's reaction to the death of LGBT civil rights leader Frank Kameny. “I’ll have to take that," said Carney. "I know that he passed away, but I don’t have a comment on that."

Really? How's about "I know that he passed away, and we all obviously feel for his friends and colleagues"?

Or: "I know that he passed away, and I know we're all grateful for the work he's done over the years on behalf of American citizens ..."

Nawp. Carny kicked the can down the road. Carney said he had no explanation for why the White House hadn't issued a statement on Kameny's death, and when asked whether President Obama would visit Mr. Kameny's body as it lies in state, Carney said, rather testily: "I'm not his scheduler."

Hey! The president's a busy guy! No hard feelings! But maybe just a little sentiment wouldn't hurt? A little bit of fellow-feeling?

The president's said nice things about Mr. Kameny before. As the Blade points out:

In 2009, Obama noted Kameny’s presence at the White House reception commemorating June as Pride month and called Kameny a "civil rights pioneer."

"Frank was fired from his job as an astronomer for the federal government simply because he was gay," Obama said. "And in 1965, he led a protest outside the White House, which was at the time both an act of conscience but also an act of extraordinary courage. And so we are proud of you, Frank, and we are grateful to you for your leadership."

Gay Rights Pioneer Frank Kameny to Lie in State on November 3

KamenyGay rights pioneer Frank Kameny, who died last week at the age of 86, wil lie in state at the Carnegie Library on November 3:

"All are welcome to visit and say goodbye to our fellow citizen, neighbor, friend, advocate and civil rights champion, Frank Kameny. This farewell viewing, to be held over several hours on November 3 to allow many friends to visit at their convenience, was made possible through our Mayor, the Honorable Vincent Gray, and with the endorsement of Members of the D.C. Council, as well as many friends and allies of the late Dr. Kameny...This will not be a formal program or a funeral service conducted during this viewing period. However, informal remarks by civic leaders and choral presentations may be made during the 5 hours set aside for viewing."

The Smithsonian is also opening an exhibit of Kameny's picket signs in memory of his life. It opens today.

Details, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Rachel Maddow Honors Frank Kameny: VIDEO


Have some hero for breakfast and watch this Rachel Maddow segment on the late civil rights pioneer Frank Kameny, who was lost to us this week.


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Gay Rights Pioneer Frank Kameny Dead at 86

The LGBT rights movement has lost one of its civil rights heroes and bravest champions. Frank Kameny was found dead at his home today in Washington D.C. He was 86, the Washington Post reports:

KamenyHis death...on National Coming Out Day, came in a year when gay people were accorded the right to serve openly in the armed forces, and D.C. Council member David A. Catania (I-At Large) noted this Tuesday night.

In his efforts throughout the years, Mr. Kameny was one of the fathers of that achievement, said Catania, the first openly gay man elected to the D.C. Council...

...Mr. Kameny was generally credited as an originator of the slogan “Gay Is Good.” Those words symbolized not only his skill at advoacy, but they also the beliefs that he championed.

In numerous ways over the years, starting at a time when those openly asserting their homosexuality could place themselves in physical jeopardy, Mr. Kameny worked to increase the acceptance of gay people in mainstream American society and to recognize their rights.

Among many other things, Kameny helped organize the first gay rights protest in front of the White House in 1965 and founded the Mattachine Society, one of the nation's first gay rights groups.

Kameny2Kameny, a World War II vet, was fired from his job with the U.S. Government in 1957 for being gay. Upon having his papers accepted, he said: "Nearly fifty years ago, the United States Government banned me from employment in public service because I am a homosexual. This archive is not simply my story; it also shows how gay and lesbian Americans have joined the American mainstream story of expanded civil liberties in the 20th century. Today, by accepting these papers, the nation preserves not only our history but marks how far gay and lesbian Americans have traveled on the road to civil equality."

In 2007, Kameny called for mercy for then Idaho Senator Larry Craig, who was caught soliciting sex in a bathroom stall by a Minneapolis police officer. Said Kameny: "Fair is fair. [Craig] was the victim of a false arrest and a malfeasant prosecution."

Kameny's home was declared a historic landmark in 2009, "...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," wrote the Washington Post.

Later that year, he received an official apology from White House Office of Personnel Management head, openly gay John Berry, for firing Kameny in 1957 because he was gay.

In June 2010, two blocks of 17th Street NW were renamed 'Frank Kameny Way'.

In December last year, Kameny was seated in the front row as 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' repeal was signed into law, and last May, his papers went on display at the Library of Congress for the first time.

Kameny came out at a time when it was not only extremely brave, but dangerous, and sacrificed much in the process. May he rest in peace.

Watch Kameny talk to AARP and the Washington Blade about activism and his role in the beginning of the gay rights movement, AFTER THE JUMP...

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'The Lavender Scare' Documents Government's Witch Hunt Against Gays in the 50's and 60's: TRAILER


A new documentary in production documents the government's 'witch hunts' of the 50's and 60's and efforts by early gay activists like Frank Kameny to put a stop to them.

K Write the filmmakers:

The Lavender Scare is the first feature-length documentary film to tell the story of the U.S. government's ruthless campaign in the 1950s and '60s to hunt down and fire every Federal employee it suspected was gay.

While the McCarthy Era is remembered as the time of the Red Scare, the headline-grabbing hunt for Communists in the United States, it was the Lavender Scare, a vicious and vehement purge of homosexuals, which lasted longer and ruined many more lives.

Before it was over, more than 10,000 Federal employees lost their jobs. Based on the award-winning book by historian David K. Johnson, The Lavender Scare shines a light on a chapter of American history that has never received the attention it deserves.

It examines the tactics used by the government to identify homosexuals, and takes audiences inside interrogation rooms where gay men and women were subjected to grueling questioning. These stories are told through the first-hand accounts of the people who experienced them.

Watch a first trailer, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "'The Lavender Scare' Documents Government's Witch Hunt Against Gays in the 50's and 60's: TRAILER" »


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