Frank Kameny – Defendent for the First Sexual Orientation Discrimination Civil Rights Appeal

Frank Kameney was born to Jewish parents in 1925. He became an astronomer and was drafted into the United States Army during World War II. Fred was also gay.

After World War II ended, a Senator from Wisconsin named Joseph McCarthy decided that the world was at risk after a brush with communism, and launched the “Red Scare,” where he accused multiple groups of people of being communists or communist sympathizers. Then as this uproar was starting to fade, the Red Scare changed to the “Lavender Scare,” where he declared that anyone who was part of what we now call the LGBTQ+ community was a threat to national security and should no longer work in government roles.

Frank Kameney was one of the federal workers who was fired for his sexual orientation, and he filed the first civil rights appeal for sexual orientation discrimination. He became a gay rights activist, and was a founding member of the Mattachine Society, an organization created to defend gay rights.

See also: LGBTQ+ History


Kameney also worked to remove “homosexuality” from the DSM, a manual of mental disorders. This was finally successful in 1973.

On June 29, 2009, he was presented the Theodore Roosevelt Award, which is awarded to inspirational leaders creating an America that cares for all citizens.

Frank Kameney passed away in October of 2011. It wasn’t until 2015 that he received a headstone from the United States Veterans Administration at DC’s Congressional Cemetary, acknowledging that he was a veteran. His headstone is engraved with what he said he hoped his legacy would be: “Gay is good.”