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In celebration of LGBTQ Pride Month, Google’s daily Doodle — a small image or drawing honoring a particular day, event, or current or historical figure on the main Google search page — for June 2 recognizes the life and achievements of Dr. Frank Kameny, a notable figure in the LGBTQ rights movement in the United States.
Born in Queens, New York, on May 21, 1925, Kameny was a World War II veteran and astronomer with a doctorate from Harvard University who worked with the U.S. Army Map Service.
In 1957, he was fired just a few months after initially being hired, due to a four-year-old executive order from then-President Dwight Eisenhower (R) prohibiting LGBTQ individuals from working in the federal government, based on the assumption that their sexual orientation or gender identity — and efforts to conceal it — made them security risks.
Kameny, a proud man, refused to deny his sexual orientation and sued the federal government for wrongful termination, demanding his job back. In 1961, the U.S. Supreme Court denied his petition, refusing to hear the case. Kameny then spent the next five decades until his death in 2011 fighting to end LGBTQ discrimination, particularly with respect to federal employment.
A founder of the Gay Activists Alliance — the predecessor to the modern-day GLAA — Kameny was best known for his use of the slogan “Gay is Good,” aimed at combating society’s negative stereotypes of LGBTQ people.
Kameny led the first public demonstration in favor of LGBT rights in front of the White House in 1965, became the first openly gay candidate for Congress in 1971, advocated for allowing LGBTQ people to serve openly in the U.S. military — something achieved with the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” just shortly before his death in 2011 — and successfully challenged the American Psychiatric Association’s classification of homosexuality as a mental disease.
As a result of Kameny’s activism, as well as that of others, the U.S. government eventually changed its attitudes towards LGBTQ federal employees. In 1975, the Civil Service Commission announced that gays and lesbians would no longer be excluded from government employment, and in 1992, President Bill Clinton signed an executive order allowing LGBTQ people to hold security clearances and high government positions.
In 2009, Kameny received a formal apology from the U.S. government. In 2010, Washington, D.C. named a stretch of 17th Street NW near Dupont Circle “Frank Kameny Way” in his honor. He passed away at 86 on Oct. 11, 2011, which, fittingly, marks the occasion of National Coming Out Day. He is buried at Washington D.C.’s Congressional Cemetery, with his headstone reading “Gay Is Good.”
Google’s decision to honor Kameny’s life and activism comes just as the tech giant announced it plans to provide $4 million to support LGBTQ communities around the world. $2 million will go to OutRight Action International’s “COVID-19 Global LGBTIQ Emergency Fund,” which supports frontline LGBTQ workers in various countries. Already, OutRight has awarded grants to various organizations, including the U.S.-based Transgender Law Center, with the money going to provide food, shelter and job training to vulnerable LGBTQ individuals.
Google also plans to provide $1 million in ad grants to support OutRight’s advocacy work, fighting against laws that criminalize homosexuality or people living with HIV, and another $1 million to support the Transgender Law Center and the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund.
In addition, Google has updated Google Photos, Maps, and Search to make them more inclusive. For instance, within Maps and Search, someone could find out which local businesses have gender-neutral restrooms. Throughout the month, Google users will be able to learn about LGBTQ artists and history, and revisit the first 15 years of Pride through Google Arts & Culture, and Google TV has a new Pride collection of movies and features, including a spotlight of the new Pride documentary, and users can utilize Google to watch several livestreaming events, including a YouTube Originals event in support of The Trevor Project on June 25.
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