Frank Kameny

Before Stonewall

In celebrating the most famous gay-rights skirmish, we slight the battles that came before

In celebrating the most famous gay-rights skirmish, we slight the battles that came before

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Frank Kameny never thought he would live to see what happened on April 23, 2009. Over five decades earlier, in December of 1957, Kameny was fired from his job at the Army Map Service. Two years earlier, he had been arrested in a police sting at a San Francisco men’s room, a routine incident in an era when local authorities devoted significant resources in the entrapment of homosexuals.

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Chalk this up as one of the most embarrassing episodes in journalism: In it's upcoming Pride issue, The Advocate reported that Frank Kameny, the legendary D.C. gay rights activist, had succumbed to AIDS. Only problem: Frank doesn't have HIV/AIDS, and he isn't dead either. In fact, the issue date, May 22, is one day after Frank turns 82. I'm lucky enough to know Frank, and he's the furthest thing from dead. Fired from a government job in 1957 for being gay, he's devoted most of his adult life to civil rights.

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