Friday, November 11, 2011

Gay is Good! So said a gay rights pioneer. When we say pioneer we think of the unfortunate Europeans who dared to claim recently discovered land out west in the 1700’s. Dr. Franklin Kameny from the Mattachine Society recently died and was a pioneer for gay rights. Nobody knows him because even though he was as we say “out of the closet” he came from a time in the 50’s when you were ostracized from society and fired from your job if anyone knew you were gay.
As a parent of 2 gay children, I am in a way coming out of the closet in acknowledging their sexuality. I will always miss not having grandchildren that could possess their same smile but I am sure even the gay community that now seems to be very conservative, with their wishes for legal marriage, and adopting children, living the conservative lifestyle, committed to each other and commitment to a stable family life, also wishes they could have children with their same smile.
There was a time when being gay was also part of the free love, random sex, and drug lifestyle that was rampant in bath houses and in studio 54 disco clubs until everyone started dying from aids. Those practices from those days were compounded with a anti-gay opinion in society. This guy always became visible throughout the years in pressing forward to help society accept people’s sexual preferences even if it was different from most people’s preferences.
Kameny died recently at age 86. He was a World War II veteran. In 1956 he took a civilian job with the Army map service. He was fired after a year because his sexual orientation was exposed. After that, he became a leading gay activists taking part in protests among other things as well as a 1960 State Department protest-9 that annoyed then Secretary of State Dean Rusk.
Rusk said, “ I understand that we are being picketed by a group of homosexuals. The policy of the department is, that we do not employ homosexuals knowingly and that if we discover homosexuals in our department , we discharge them.” This matter of fact decision by our government disturbed Kameny. I feel that whatever you do in your bedroom with whoever is none of my business and should not be a factor in anyone’s job performance at work.
Kameny went on TV and had the courage to rebut very strongly and said,” Every American citizen has the right to be considered by his government on the basis of his own personal merit as an individual. Certainly some homosexuals are poor risks but this is no possible excuse for penalizing all homosexuals.”
The Federal government eventually ended its hiring ban. Ironically, not much has been done for gay government workers until Clinton and Obama. Clinton granted Gay workers Job protection in government and Obama recently signed an order expanding gay partnership benefits for Federal workers 2 years ago, Dr. Franklin Kameny was there and received as a souvenir the pen that Obama used to sign the order.
Kameny said that his proudest accomplishment in life was the slogan he came up with. Gay is Good.

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