Monday, May 24, 2010

Before Harvey Milk, there was Frank Kameny

With all the hoopla surrounding the celebration of Harvey Milk Day in California and cities around the country and the 80th birthday of the slain LGBT rights leader, it's gone unnoticed that our community still has one of our civil rights pioneers alive and well in the person of Mattachine Society founder Frank Kameny, who celebrated his 85th birthday on May 21st.

Kameny was fired from his State Department job in 1957 as a security risk when it became known that he was gay. As one of the founding members of the Mattachine Society, he led the successful fight to overturn the ban on employment for gays and lesbians at the agency that is now headed by Hillary Clinton. Kameny is seen in this photo picketing the White House. He is the second in line. Kameny's slogan "Gay is Good" became the mantra of the early gay rights movement.

The Mattachine members believed that by dressing conservatively and being respectful, they could show the world that homosexuals were not threatening. It was not until Stonewall that the LGBT rights movement became more radical and in-your-face. You can read more about the life and legacy of Frank Kameny at

The following video interview with Kameny at his 85th birthday party comes to us courtesy of The Washington Blade. Kameny has some interesting things to say about the current state of the movement, Lt. Dan Choi and President Obama. There's nothing wrong with your ears or your PC/Mac. The audio goes from stereo to mono in the clip.

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