Dr. Frank E. Kameny was honored for his decades of work fighting for gay rights today as the city dedicated a block of 17th Street NW to him. The 1700 block of 17th, from Q to R Streets NW, will receive a sign that designates it as “Frank Kameny Way NW.” (The Washington Blade reports it is from P up to R.)
The ceremony took place around 10 am Thursday morning with Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, DDoT Director Gabe Klein, Councilmember Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), and members of the GLBT community. Also on hand was John Berry, director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM); Berry is openly gay. Berry’s presence was ironic because Kameny was fired five decades ago for being gay.
Kameny served in the US Army during World War II but was fired from the Army Map Service in 1957 because of his sexual orientation. In the first civil rights claim based on sexual orientation, Kameny took his case to the U.S. Supreme Court. Along with co-founding the Mattachine Society of Washington in 1961, Kameny led a myriad of successful national efforts in service to the gay community. He also helped to reverse the American Psychiatric Association’s classification of homosexuality as a mental disorder and became the first openly gay candidate to run for Congress in 1971.
The Blade explains that, “The Dupont Circle Advisory Neighborhood Commission, which has jurisdiction over the 17th Street strip near Dupont Circle, initiated the Kameny street designation earlier this year.”
Wikipedia’s entry on Kameny notes:
In 2007, the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History included Kameny’s picket signs carried in front of the White House in 1965, in the Smithsonian exhibit “Treasures of American History”. The Smithsonian now has 12 of the original picket signs carried by gay and lesbian Americans at this, the first ever White House demonstration.