Frank Kameny's Attic
Signs of Progress
By Jose Antonio Vargas in the Washington Post
Once upon a gay time, before the Stonewall riots in New York, before gay marriage, gay adoption and gay real estate, before "Will & Grace," "The L Word" and cable channels called Logo and Here!, before everyone had a gay relative, there was a man who led a picket line in front of the White House. It was 1965, and the man was Franklin E. Kameny.
"So here we are!" says Kameny, a lifetime later, in his foghorn of a voice. "This is what you wanted to see!"
Boxes of personal papers, official documents, newspaper clippings dating back to the 1950s. Stack after stack of black-and-white posters ("First Class Citizenship for Homosexuals," "Homosexual Americans Demand Their Civil Rights") that he and others brandished at the White House, the Pentagon, the State Department in the 1960s.
The man in the three-piece navy blue suit with a dark blue tie is starting to sweat, just enough that you begin to wonder if a summer afternoon might not be the best time for an 80-year-old to spend nearly three hours in his dusty Northwest Washington attic. But he doesn't mind. He's a vigorous figure -- head stern, jaw locked, shoulders slightly forward.
"People have been asking me, 'What are you going do with all of this?'" says Kameny, his left hand resting on a stack of posters. The posters are written in precise, bold script, and Kameny, who speaks in precise, perfectly constructed sentences, wouldn't have had them any other way. ("Let's make it a tentative 1:30 p.m. meeting, subject to confirmation," he'd said about this interview.)
"People have been legitimately telling me, 'For heaven's sake, you're 80 years old now. Figure out what you're going to do with them.' . . . One of the things I still have to do," Kameny says, laughing, "is write a will."
The modern gay rights movement has been around long enough to worry about losing the artifacts of its history....
A hat tip to my little brother for forwarding this article!