Frank Kameny
Guy Lochhead, 03/03/12
New York City-based gay rights activist who took to the cause after being dismissed in 1957 from a position as astronomer in the Army Map Service on the basis of his sexuality, and banned from any further work for the government. His petition against his firing was the first civil rights claim based on sexual orientation (it was unsuccessful). His drive and tenacity is credited as pioneering “a new period of militancy in the homosexual rights movement of the early 1960s”. Kameny’s conflicts with the American establishment have become the stuff of legend. Kameny was obviously just super-sound. I’m disappointed that there isn’t yet a biography available. I will wait and hope that someone will produce a decent one and then include that. I don’t want to include any of the books that feature him as a part of the history of the wider NYC gay rights movement, or as a case study in the fight against homophobia in the Army, because for me his value is as a phenomenal role model. Although I realise that the civil rights efforts only succeed on the back of many brilliant individuals, understanding those individuals’ backgrounds and motivations enriches an understanding of their wider cause. Kameny is a stubborn, innovative, witty and inspiring example of this.

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