Subscribe to SLJ
Nonfiction Matters
Inside Nonfiction Matters

Frank Kameny — The Hero Whose Story We Don’t Teach

If you have not read the obit for Frank Kameny, please do: I only regret that I did not realize until the announcement of his death that he was still alive. I had perhaps vaguely heard his name, but I only realized his crucial role in our history when I began researching J. Edgar Hoover and the era of the Red Scare.
Reading David Johnsons’s pathbreaking The Lavender Scare, I realized how much of the 50’s fear and repression was around homosexuality, not (or as well as) communism. But then I also read about Mr.Kameny who, in the midst of this time in which your sexual orientation could get you fired, challenged that entire mode of thinking and judgement in court, in public, and on the streets. He truly was one of the key Civil Rights heroes, and his story belongs in every classroom that teaches about Rosa, or Caesar, or Betty, or Rachel. And by one of the weird twists of publishing, Renee Cafiero, who copyedited the book I eventually wrote, knew him. So while I did not get to meet him until, so I learned yesterday, it was too late, I felt a kind of laying on of hands through her.

I urge you all to read the obit and learn more about this trailblazing advocate for human rights.