pen rainbow

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Mini-Post Thursday—One Who Moved the Dial

Dr. Kameny's testimony before the House
Committee, opposing a bill to revoke
gay org license to solicit funds
He began the struggle for gay rights by challenging the system from the inside—Franklin Kameny: 1925 - 2011

I've never been one for ululation.  When it comes to civil rights, though, I usually pay attention when someone who has spent the majority of his lifetime fighting for equality passes away.  Frank Kameny left an indelible mark on history by working his way through the interminably slow system of law and bureaucratic process and by never flinching in the face of cruel adversity.   

I usually don't like people who agitate.  They're abrasive, loud, and generally annoying.  I really don't like it when they block traffic or keep people from attending to everyday, ordinary business like jury duty or getting to the bank.  But, it makes no difference what they're like as individuals when their clear and coherent message is one that affects us all.   

Permanent change happens slowly and at great personal cost to those who lead the cause.  It's never easy, and at most, one can only hope to move the dial.  Declassifying homosexuality as a mental illness from the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is moving the dial in a way that enlightens and liberates our culture from bigotry, discrimination, and hate.  We're not completely there, but because of his diligence and determination, we're getting closer.

Early gay rights motto by Frank Kameny, 1968
From the Smithsonian's Museum of American History collection

I had never heard of Franklin Kameny before his obit appeared yesterday in the NY Times.  I'd put him right next to Rosa Parks when it comes to important contributions to freedom.

Copies of original Kameny Papers