Frank Kameny made my life better. He made countless gay people’s lives better. He showed us the meaning of courage. He showed us the power of standing up for ourselves. He renewed our belief in moral suasion against ignorance and hostility. And he made his country, our country, truer to the better angels of its nature.
I will always feel grateful and fortunate to have lived in his wake. And nothing gives me more joy than knowing that he lived long enough to see himself vindicated and celebrated. The long arc of the universe does indeed bend toward justice.
I can’t think of much more to say than I said in this tribute from a few years back:
He exhibits an unshakable and unmistakably American confidence that all the great and mighty, no matter their number or power, must bow to one weak man who has the Founders’ promise on his side. “We are honorable people who deal with others honorably and in good faith,” he insisted to the Un-American Activities Committee. “We expect to be dealt with in the same fashion – especially by our governmental officials.” There you hear the pipsqueak, indomitable voice of equality.
For Kameny’s papers to join Thurgood Marshall’s and Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s [in the Library of Congress], and for his signs to join Jefferson’s writing desk and Lincoln’s inkwell [in the Smithsonian], seems fitting. All of those men understood that the words of 1776 set in motion a moral engine unlike any the world had ever seen; and all understood that the logic of equality could be delayed but not denied. Kameny, like them, believed that the Declaration of Independence means exactly what it says, and like them he made its promise his purpose.