BREAKING: Legendary Gay-Rights Activist Frank Kameny Dies at 86

Leave it to longtime gay-rights activist Frank Kameny to pass away on National Coming Out Day. A staunch advocate since before Stonewall, Kameny, 86, was never one to miss a chance to seize the moment or make himself heard. He was after all, the man who coined the phrase “Gay is Good.”

The government really brought it on itself.

When Kameny was fired him from his position with the U.S. Army Map Service in 1957 for being a homosexual, it lit a fire under him. “My dismissal amounted to a declaration against me by the government,” he once said. Kameny, a veteran of WWII, sued for his job back. He lost, but appealed—again and again—until finally the Supreme Court denied his petition in 1961.

That was the beginning.

Kameny spent the next 50 years on the front lines of the LGBT movement. Co-founding the Washington, DC branch of the Mattachine Society, he worked tirelessly to push the government to remove sexual orientation as a barrier for employment in the civil service, for the granting of security clearance and for serving in the Armed Forces. (The U.S. Civil Service Commission finally changed its policies to allow out gays and lesbians to be hired for government jobs in 1975.)

He led Mattachine Society pickets of the Capital and other government offices, was appointed to Washington’s Human Rights Commission and even ran for Congress—the first openly gay man to do so. In 1963, the Mattachine Society started pushing the District to overturn its sodomy laws. (They succeeded, finally, in 1993.)


Images via DC Virago and Outlines Toledo

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  • WillBFair

    I hope he took joy in the repeal of dadt. Bless his name. And may he rest in peace.

  • ewe

    Rest in Peace. Mr. Kameny is a champion for the history books.

  • Little Kiwi

    I tip my hat to him for opening the doors for all of us.

    enjoy a well-deserved rest, you Vanguard of hope :D

  • JoJo

    He was a true pioneer

  • mdthom

    Rest in Peace old friend. He will be missed by all of us who knew and loved him.

  • the crustybastard

    The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example.
    – Benjamin Disraeli

  • Dave Lara

    Love you

  • Jim Hlavac

    And one last thing he did by living so long — he put the lie to the “gays die twenty years younger than heteros” nonsense. Nice going, sir, nice going; one last bit for rationality.

  • Viperchief420

    a true role model and hero

  • Shannon1981

    He is definitely missed. Thank you for your service, Mr. Kemeny, for what you started. I personally promise to help finish it or die trying.

  • Robert Granholm

    A great man has died- his work lives on. There is much that remains to be done.

  • pete N SFO

    Any comment from The SCOTUS…

    This man’s determination should inspire all of us as our own government limits liberties that are our birthright in this nation.

    With any luck, he’ll put in a word for early departures from this earth for Scalia & Thomas.

  • jeff4justice

    Had be been active around this blog generation I am sure he would have been scrutinized as not good day enough as all the modern LGBT activists seem to be.

  • jeff4justice

    @jeff4justice: I am glad for all he and other brave LGBTs have done past and present.

  • Hephaestion

    There’s a block of 17th St. NW in Washington DC named for Kameny. He worked ceaselessly to the last day of his life. I don’t know if there’s anyone who ever did more to give us justice & equality. There needs to be a giant biography written about him.

  • 12345deviant

    Thank You. Thank You Forever. XoXo. Love you Mr. Kameny.

  • TxHeat

    RIP We have lost a great American Hero.

  • Paco

    Gods bless, and may he rest in peace

  • Philip

    Well done, sir. Thank you for the pioneering work you did for all of us.

Comments are closed.