Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Frank Kameny, long time gay activist, passes away at 86 in Washington DC

Well known gay activist Dr. Franklin E. Kameny passed away Tuesday in his sleep, according to the Washington Blade, link here

Dr. Kameny was fired from the government as an astronomer back in 1957 after he was confronted by a government witch-hunt scoring civilian civil service for “homosexuals”.  He was never sure what tipped the government off.

The federal government would amend civil service rules in 1973 to remove sexual orientation as a reason for dismissal or direct discrimination.  I actually worked for the National Bureau of Standards from 1963-1964 (my first job) and remember reading the reasons you could be “removed”. 

Kameny often weighed in on Scott Peck’s radio program in 1993 to talk about issues with LGBT people getting security clearances, a situation which got better in the 90s after the Persian Gulf War, before the political battle over the military gay ban when Bill Clinton took office in 1993.

I talked to Frank Kameny by phone in 1973 after "coming out" a second time, from a motel room. I remember he said that Georgetown was not Washington DC's answer to Greenwich Village.  He liked the bars in Washington's Navy Yard section then, like Lost and Found.

I talked to him again around 2001, when he told me he never lost faith in the ability of the gay community to persevere through any crisis, like the political fallout from AIDS in the 1980s. 

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