Tuesday, March 21st, 2023

Thoughts on Frank Kameny’s role in Stonewall…

Billy GloverJanuary 3, 2011.

Someone wrote an article asking why Frank Kameny is not treated as a “rock star” for the homosexual movement. He has been an activist since the 1960s.

Then someone else, who says they were at Stonewall, said he does not deserve any credit at all, especially for Stonewall, as the NY Mattachine types did not support Stonewall.

Actually I should be happy, or gay, to hear this second opinion as it says the same thing I have been saying, not because I like it but because it is the real world. It says that it was not the Mattachine types who were responsible for Stonewall. In fact, many had to rush back from Fire Island when they heard the news. It was young outsiders from New Jersey, etc., who were not welcome at the other bars. They were no part of a movement, and I would say they had not only never read any book on the subject but had never even discussed the subject of homosexuality in a public forum.

The Stonewall Inn

I’m not sure either version/view has to say that those who did or did not support Stonewall were seeking “assimilation,” since that is a separate issue. The issue was having a bar that they could go to, and they probably didn’t care if heteros went there too as long as everyone got along.

Where the second view falls apart is the nonsense that the people at Stonewall were more “brave” than Kameny and the other Mattachine activists. Part of this is my opinion, but the kids at 1969 have no way of knowing how brave it was for Frank, Barbara Gittings, Jack Nichols, et al., to picket at Liberty Hall and induction centers in 1965. What did the kids have to lose? Jobs?

I still think I am right. What both Frank did and what the kids at Stonewall did was good. While Frank got a little publicity when he took legal action against the Federal Government and argued with and taunted Congress, the reason the kids got lots of media coverage is because they were sexier and the media had—largely because of the movement—finally discovered the homophile movement and issues (and they covered it much like Fox News discovers or invents an issue and pushes it night and day for ratings and to excite the right-wing base.)

The most important element in any case may be timing. But as the old saying goes: When the time comes, you have to be ready to take advantage of it. We still need to push the lazy media to cover more than the back and forth on gay marriage. And we are long past the time when any coverage of homosexuality is thought to need a comment from the bigots. You don’t need an alternative opinion from someone to argue wether 2+2 =4, or an ignorant religious leader’s opinion on if the earth is more than 6,000 years old.

So welcome to the new year. Now let’s get back to work.


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