Saturday, January 01, 2011

Supporting a hero like Frank Kameny


CNN caption: "President Obama shakes hands with Frank Kameny after extending benefits to same-sex partners of federal workers in 2009."

by Ken

There aren't many contexts in which I can think of myself as "young," but I guess I can say that I'm too young to remember what the world looked like when Frank Kameny, as an openly gay man, began his long career as an activist seeking equality of treatment. One limitlessly heart-warming side note to President Obama's signing of the DADT repeal act was the outreach effort that brought Frank to the White House for the occasion.

My friend and colleague Bob Witeck has passed along this note, which I'm pleased to pass on to our readers, LGBT and otherwise, in the belief that a heroic crusader for basic human rights is a hero to everyone who believes in basic human rights.
Our community is blessed with several long-lived heroes and doers, and yet many also have passed on. A handful of early pioneers like 85-year-old Dr. Frank Kameny remain with us, not only as personal reminders of their sacrifices and hard work, but also as markers how far we’ve come on the path to equal rights.

Remarkably, Dr. Kameny was a special White House guest attending the President’s signing of the DADT repeal, and a true living witness to a protest he led a half-century ago to achieve that aim. Frank’s legacy is well known, and fortunately the subject of a forthcoming bio by David Carter (as Carter recently told CNN).

Frank always has paid it forward. For many of us, there now is a way to pay him our respects too. "Buy Frank a Drink" is the brainchild of a well respected, bare bones Washington DC nonprofit called Helping Our Brothers and Sisters. HOBS (details below) has been working with Frank for some time now, insuring that his basic life needs are met as he meets the challenges that face many of our aging advocates including heroes like Dr. Kameny. Frank was indeed the subject of anti-gay discrimination many years ago, and as a result, has only a very modest retirement income.

This cause, "Buy Frank a Drink," is a low-dollar way that anyone today may choose to help Frank with such essentials as taxi vouchers, and to be very sure his utilities are paid, and to ensure his phone, electricity, heat remain on and workable, as well as property taxes remain current and paid. Fortunately Frank is also eligible and receives public support through programs maintained by the District of Columbia, which is a valuable lifeline.
Helping Our Brothers & Sisters - Non-Profit
Post Office Box 53477
Washington, DC 20009
Telephone # 202-986-6317

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