New Delhi: June is known as ‘Pride Month’ and to celebrate it, Google Doodle has honored American astronomer, veteran, and gay rights activist Dr. Frank Kameny, widely hailed as one of the most prominent figures of the U.S. LGBTQ rights movement.
Born in Queens, New York, in 1925, Kameny was a bright student and enrolled at Queens College at 16 to study physics. But his studies were interrupted when he was drafted by the US Army during World War II. After leaving the Army, he returned to Queens College and graduated with a baccalaureate in physics in 1948.
Frank Kameny served in the U.S. Army during World War II and completed a doctorate in astronomy at Harvard before obtaining a government job in 1957. But shortly after being hired as an astronomer for the Army Map Service, Kameny was confronted over reports that he was a homosexual. Kameny was soon fired, and in January 1958, at the age of 32, he was barred from ever working for the federal government again.
Frank sued the government in a 1960 lawsuit that went all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court. He didn’t win the case, regarded as the first civil rights claim based on sexual orientation to be brought to the Supreme Court, but that was just the beginning for Kameny. In 1961, he co-founded the Mattachine Society of Washington, one of the earliest LGBTQ advocacy groups. Then in 1965, Kameny was among a small group that held what is thought to be the first gay demonstration outside the White House. Not long after, he decided to take on the American Psychiatric Association and its classification of homosexuality as a mental disorder.
In 2009, over 50 years after his dismissal, Frank received a formal apology from the US government. In June 2010, Washington D.C. named a stretch of 17th Street NW near Dupont Circle “Frank Kameny Way” in his honour. He died at the age of 86 on October 11, 2011. His death coincided with National Coming Out day, which has been celebrated annually since 1987.