Frank Kameny, American gay rights activist, dead at 86

By on Oct 12, 2011 in Announcement, United States Comments

Frank Kameny
with D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty and 
D.C. City Councilman Jack Evans
(Renaming of 17th Street into Frank Kameny Way)
Image Credit:

Franklin Edward “Frank” Kameny, 86, one of the most significant figures in the American gay rights movement and co-founder of Mattachine Society of Washington, died Tuesday at his home in Northwest Washington apparently from natural causes, as announced by several international news sites, October 12, 2011.

According to reports, his death came less than a month before the prearranged celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Mattachine Society of Washington, the first gay rights association in the nation’s capital.

Mr. Kameny, a Harvard PhD whose homosexuality allegedly led to his discharge from a federal government job more than half a century ago, reportedly lived to see his years of firm advocacy compensated through the success of many of his campaigns.

Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said Kameny “led an extraordinary life marked by heroic activism that set a path for the modern LGBT civil rights movement.”

“From his early days fighting institutionalized discrimination in the federal workforce, Dr. Kameny taught us all that ‘Gay is Good’. As we say goodbye to this trailblazer on National Coming Out Day, we remember the remarkable power we all have to change the world by living our lives like Frank ­— openly, honestly and authentically.”

Chuck Wolfe, CEO of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, said Kameny’s death marked the “loss of a hero and a founding father of the fight to end discrimination against LGBT people.”

“Dr. Kameny stood up for this community when doing so was considered unthinkable and even shocking, and he continued to do so throughout his life. He spoke with a clear voice and firm conviction about the humanity and dignity of people who were gay, long before it was safe for him to do so. All of us who today endeavor to complete the work he began a half century ago are indebted to Dr. Kameny and his remarkable bravery and commitment.”

Chad Griffin, board president for the American Federation for Equal Rights, said “America has lost a hero” with the passing of Kameny.

“Out and proud, Frank Kameny was fighting for equality long before the rest of us knew we could. Because there was one Frank Kameny, trailblazing and honest enough to speak out 50 years ago, there are now millions of Americans, coming out, speaking out and fighting for their basic civil rights. His is a legacy of bravery and tremendous impact and will live on in the hearts and minds of every American who values equality and justice.”

LesbianGayBisexual and Transgender (LGBT) rights advocates Charles Francis and Bob Witeck said they would soon be announcing plans for a memorial service to honor the gay rights leader’s life.

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