Monday, May 31, 2010

Frank Kameny, Gay Hero,

Deserves the Medal of Freedom

(Kameny with one of his picket signs from the 1960s.)

This Memorial Day is an excellent time to recall and honor the decades of gay liberation advocacy performed by U.S. Army veteran Frank Kameny. Way before the Stonewall Riots or a Supreme Court decision overturning sodomy law or gay marches on Washington, Kameny was fighting, sometimes all by himself, for full legal equality for gay people.

Last August, when President Barack Obama bestowed his first round of Medal of Freedom honors and the late Harvey Milk was one of the honorees, I wondered why a living gay hero wasn't given one of the medals. I blogged about pushing the almost-invisible and very quiet White House gay liaison Brian Bond to make Kameny a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

To his credit, Bond sent me a 26-word reply, promising that Kameny would be remembered for future awards. It's almost a year later, and I'd like to know if Bond and the White House are considering giving Kameny this honor.

On May 21, Kameny turned 85 and the Washington-area gay community feted him on this occasion and praised his civic and political accomplishments. Many happy birthday wishes to him, as he celebrates another year of life and being his feisty self, but his birthday is also a reminder that Kameny is no spring chicken.

I wish him many more birthdays, and hope that the White House understands the urgency of honoring Kameny with the Medal of Freedom while he's still alive and kicking.

Here's a great video from the Washington Blade, of an interview one of their reporters conducted with the national gay icon at one of this hometown's parties for him:

Hey, Frank, I have two things to say to you: thank you. Yes, dear Founding Father of the modern American gay movement, I am in debt to you and your colleagues for the heroism you showed so many years ago. Thank you, Frank.

Now let's persuade the President to make Kameny an American pioneer and patriot glorified with a Medal of Freedom.

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