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Stonewall Democrats: The Passing of a Hero

Statement by National Stonewall Democrats Executive Director, Michael Mitchell, on the passing of Dr. Frank Kameny:

Last night, we lost a hero and a champion for LGBT rights. Dr. Frank Kameny was a courageous and undeniable force in our movement. In 1957, he was fired from his US Government job for being gay. The peaceful demonstrations he spearheaded predated the Stonewall Riots by several years, and no doubt opened a door to wider acceptance that allowed the fateful nights of 1969 to grab hold. He lived his life as an example of what it is to be tenacious and fearless.

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In 2009, John Berry, on behalf of the US Government, apologized to Dr. Kameny for his firing and awarded him the Office of Personell Management’s highest honor for his service. National Stonewall Democrats honored him as one of our Capital Champions as well — In 2010 — on the day before his 85th birthday. His body was frail, but his voice was powerful as he contextualized how far we’ve come as a movement in his lifetime.

I am saddened beyond words at the loss of this courageous pioneer.  He holds a very special place in our hearts not only as a long-time activist, but also as a co-founder of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, which is a member of the Stonewall Democrats family. Frank Kameny’s legacy lives on in the hearts of the many and diverse activists who continue in our collective fight for equality every day. He is already missed, but I am grateful for the time he spent with us.

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