LGBTQ* People You Should Know
Pioneering Gay Rights Leader
Franklin E. Kameny, who transformed his 1957 arrest as a “sexual pervert” and his subsequent firing from the Army Map Service into a powerful animating spark of the gay civil rights movement, died on Tuesday at his home in Washington. He was 86.
A half-century ago, Mr. Kameny was either first or foremost — often both — in publicly advocating the propositions that there were homosexuals throughout the population, that they were not mentally ill, and that there was neither reason nor justification for the many forms of discrimination prevalent against them.
Rather than accept his firing quietly, Mr. Kameny challenged his dismissal before the Civil Service Commission and then sued the government in federal court. That he lost was almost beside the point. The battle against discrimination now had a face, a name and a Ph.D. from Harvard.
Though he helped found the Mattachine Society of Washington, an early advocacy group, Mr. Kameny was not content to organize solely within the gay community. He welcomed and exploited the publicity that came from broader — if foredoomed — political efforts, like running in 1971 for the delegate seat representing the District of Columbia in the House of Representatives.
He also claimed authorship of the phrase “Gay is good” a year before the 1969 Stonewall uprising in New York, widely regarded as the first milestone in the gay rights movement. Many of the tributes that began to appear on the Web on Wednesday noted that Mr. Kameny’s death coincided with National Coming Out Day.
(picture also from NYTimes – Caption reads: President Obama with Franklin Kameny, right, in 2009 after signing a memorandum providing benefits to the same-sex partners of federal employees.)