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Franklin Kameny was, as they say, a pioneer of the early days of the modern gay civil rights movement. Before even the 1969 Stonewall riot in New York, in days when 49 of 50 states banned sodomy (and meant it), when the police routinely raided gay bars and arrested patrons for dancing together or for no reason at all, when the America Psychiatric Association still considered homosexuality a mental disorder, when homosexuality was a disqualification from any federal employment, when the FBI was busy monitoring and harassing nascent gay political groups, Kameny was leading the very first demonstrations of homosexuals in front of the White House and generally giving the government hell for its anti-gay policies.
Now an octogenarian, Kameny has kept almost all of his letters and other documents and pictures from the early 1960s on. That’s very fortunate for anyone interested in the history of the movement. What’s worrisome, however, is that none of this precious material has yet found a permanent and safe home in a library or other collection where it can be made available to researchers and, most importantly, be preserved for posterity. An effort is underway to change that.
Some of Kameny’s archives have now been collected at a Web site called ”The Kameny Papers” (www.kamenypapers.org), set up run and by Charles Francis. Francis is raising money for the effort to preserve this original source material. The site is worth a visit if you have any interest in the subject at all. The pictures, including marvelous color photos of the original 1965 White House pickets, can be found under the ”Memorabilia” tab.
Much more interesting and often heart-breaking, however, is the material under the tab ”Correspondence.” Some highlights:
There’s much more on the Web site.
Let’s hope the whole archives will be publicly available soon. You can help make that happen by donating to the effort.
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