Thursday, October 20, 2011

Kameny to Shilts:
1978 Four-Page Biograph: 'Gay is Great'

(The gay pioneer donned drag for a cover story in DC's Metro Weekly magazine in 2006. CORRECTION: Chris Geidner of MW writes: "The photo of Kameny in drag was from a 1998 April Fools' Day issue. The 2006 cover shoot was not in drag." Oops, and apologies. Credit: Todd Franson.)

The file on Frank Kameny in the collection of Randy Shilts' papers at the San Francisco Public Library's incredible and publicly-accessible San Francisco History Center is quite slim. The most fascinating item I found in it earlier this week was a typewritten rambling four-page biography by Frank from 1978.

I like the typos, grammatical errors and stream-of-consciousness mode because they provide a peek into how Frank's mind worked. Of course, I asked the librarians to copy the pages for me and I'm proud and happy to share them here.

A number of lines stand out and I've transcribed and corrected them, in the hope that it will make it easier for readers to cut-and-paste the lines and share them. Please be sure to give credit to the San Francisco Public Library, if you use the lines or the photos of the actual document.

Dismissed--1st to fight back...appealed up through White House, Eisenhower staff. Predictably, I got nowhere.

Weight went down to [the] point that my knees too boney to sleep on side.

Got NY Mattachine's Washington list...started in Nov. 1961, 13 people attended 1st meeting--not including member of local vice squad (then a dozen) morals division of DC [police?] department.

By 1966, I was spending more time on television than watching it.

When I started in 1961, you could write to the entire movement after dinner and have the rest of the evening free to do other things.

For all the talk of the late 60s, the revolution just isn't going to occur.

I have an absolute and total faith in the ability of the product of my own intellectual processes. If there is a matter in which the world and I differ, I'm willing to give it a second look. But if we then still differ, then I am right and they are wrong. They can go on being wrong if they want to--as long as they don't get in my way. But if they do get in the way, then there is going to be a fight and I don't intend to lose.

I have spent the last 15 years not adjusting my manner to society, but adjusting society to me.

Inspired watching Stokely Carmichael say black is beautiful. Gay is grand, gay is great in 1968.

Here are pages 1-4 of Kameny's biography. Hand-written notes in margins on page 3 are Shilts'. Click to enlarge.

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