Washington, DC-October 12, 2011-The Gertrude Stein Democratic Club is in mourning over the death of Stein Club Co-Founder Dr. Frank Kameny. Kameny was the father of the District of Columbia's gay rights movement. Kameny passed away yesterday at the age of 86.
Kameny was one of the most significant figures ever in the gay rights movement. He was fired from the federal government because of his sexual orientation. After that, he committed himself to changing the policy and was instrumental in the federal government's reversal of its ban of gay and lesbian employees. Kameny is also credited with being responsible for the reversal of the ban on security clearances for gays and lesbians in 1975. Additionally, Kameny played a key role in getting the American Psychiatric Association to stop classifying homosexuality as a mental disorder in 1973.
In November 1961, he was a co-founder of the Mattachine Society of Washington. In January 1976, he was a co-founder of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club. Kameny coined the phrase "Gay is Good!"
"Frank was the most instrumental person in the history of the gay movement. I went to San Francisco on Thursday, June 6, 1963 to see Hall Call, the President of the San Francisco Matachine Society. Hall had never met Frank at the time, but Hall was already complaining to me about him. He said to me 'that Frank Kameny keeps openly using the word homosexuality. Doesn't he know he should remain quiet and let the civil libertarians speak on his behalf.'"
-Paul Kuntzler, Stein Club Co-Founder, recounts a story of Kameny's early push for gay rights and insistence on pushing the envelope. The Stein Club was founded in Kuntzler's living room in Jan. 1976.
He also ran for the District's non-voting delegate position in 1971, making him the first openly gay person to run for federal office.
"Dr. Kameny was a pioneer and I felt honored every time I was in his presence. He contributed so much to the world and to the LGBT community. If we all strive to impact the world at just a fraction of the amount that he did, then the world would be a much better place."
-Lateefah Williams, Stein Club President
"Frank was the first from our community to do so many important things. He was the first to run for U.S. Congress and the first to serve DC's Human Rights Commission. But also, he was always the first to protest any wrongdoing, no matter what it was or who it was that was involved. This makes him not only a hero to the GLBT community, but a hero to all of humanity."
-Julius Agers, Stein Club Vice President of Legislation and Political Affairs
We extend our deepest sympathies to his family, friends, and the LGBT community around the world.
In Kameny's honor, the Stein Club plans to annually honor a pioneering member of the LGBT community with the Dr. Frank Kameny award. The first award, given at the 35th Anniversary Leadership Awards on Oct. 27, will be awarded to Kameny posthumously. We are also asking members of the community to please email photos of Frank Kameny to firstname.lastname@example.org, so that we can display them in a special tribute to Kameny at the awards event later this month.