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Queery: DC Allen

DC Allen, Crew Club, gay news, Washington Blade

DC Allen (Washington Blade file photo by Pete Exis)

Things will be a little different at the Crew Club (1321 14th St., N.W.) on Sunday. From 2-6 p.m., owner DC Allen is hosting a birthday party. Gay porn star Matthew Rush will be on hand. It’s open to the public.

Allen, a 58-year-old Boston native, has been in D.C. since 1990 after spending the ‘80s in New York.

He and husband Ken Flick live on 17th Street near Dupont Circle with their dog, Toad. Allen enjoys reading, community activism, working out, cooking and traveling in his free time.

Find the Crew Club on Facebook or visit thecrewclub.co for details.

 

How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?

Since 1979. My stepfather who was not gay friendly.

 

Who’s your LGBT hero?

Frank Kameny for his long-term activism.

What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?

The Crew Club, of course!

 

Describe your dream wedding.

Surrounded by family and friends, in the District Courthouse with fake flowers on a plastic trellis. We did it in October 2012!

 

What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?

The little children in the U.S. Congress playing their childish games.

 

What historical outcome would you change?

The U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Windsor case would apply to all states, not just the federal government.

 

What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?

The first time I saw “The Book of Mormon” on Broadway. The irreverence and truth was spectacular!

 

On what do you insist?

That we as a community never put up with bullies.

 

What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?

I posted my birthday party at the Crew Club that I’m throwing on Sunday. I also posted thank yous to everyone who wished me happy birthday.

 

If your life were a book, what would the title be?

“Whoremaster to Weenie Waggers”

 

If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. I would stay the same delightful homosexual that I am today.

 

What do you believe in beyond the physical world?

A spiritual existence and a power greater than myself.

 

What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?

Never forget that we are not heterosexuals.

 

What would you walk across hot coals for?

Complete equality.

 

What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?

We are not all 20-year-old muscle bunnies.

 

What’s your favorite LGBT movie?

“Kinky Boots”

 

What’s the most overrated social custom?

There are no overrated social customs.

 

What trophy or prize do you most covet?

I was lucky enough to receive the Business Leader of the Year Award in 2012 from the Capitol Area Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. That was and is the award I most coveted because it recognized all of the positive things I’ve tried to do in the D.C. gay community.

 

What do you wish you’d known at 18?

Floss more, eat less.

 

Why Washington?

I had family in the area. Also, Washington has the highest percentage of master’s degrees per workforce in the world. I like a bright, driven population around me.

05
Mar
2014

Kennedy Library showcases Kameny letters to JFK

Frank Kameny, gay news, Washington Blade, letters

‘In 1961, it has, ironically, become necessary for me to fight my own government, with words,’ Frank Kameny wrote to President Kennedy. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston is taking steps this month to publicize the dozens of letters, pamphlets and press releases that D.C. gay rights pioneer Frank Kameny sent to President Kennedy from 1961 to 1963.

In a prominent write-up on the Kennedy Library website, library official Stacey Chandler, a reference archives specialist, said the letters poignantly document Kameny’s role as one of the nation’s first advocates for the rights of gay people before the highest levels of the U.S. government.

Chandler said the letters and other documents from Kameny are part of the library’s archives and are available for viewing online. Kameny died at the age of 86 in 2011.

“In World War II, I willingly fought the Germans, with bullets, in order to preserve and secure my rights, freedoms, and liberties, and those of my fellow citizens,” Kameny told Kennedy in a letter dated May 15, 1961 that’s part of the archive collection.

“In 1961, it has, ironically, become necessary for me to fight my own government, with words, in order to achieve some of the very same rights, freedoms, and liberties for which I placed my life in jeopardy in 1945,” wrote Kameny. “This letter is part of that fight.”

In a letter dated Aug. 28, 1962 Kameny told Kennedy, “You have said: ‘Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.’ We know what we can do for our country; we wish to do it; we ask only that our country allow us to do it.”

Kameny wrote the letters in his role as president of the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C., the city’s first gay rights organization that Kameny co-founded in 1961 and led through the 1960s and early 1970s.

Chandler noted in her article that the Mattachine Society of Washington came into being shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to take the case of a legal challenge that Kameny filed against the then U.S. Civil Service Commission.

In a first-of-its-kind action, Kameny contested the Civil Service Commission’s decision in 1958 to fire him from his job as an astronomer with the Army Map Service in Washington following an investigation into alleged homosexual activity by Kameny.

Among other things, the Commission cited a 1953 executive order by President Dwight Eisenhower that barred from the federal workforce anyone with a history of “sexual perversion” and other “immoral or notoriously disgraceful conduct.” Homosexual acts between consenting adults were considered among the prohibited conduct.

“Kameny wrote an astounding number of letters throughout his lifetime of advocacy, most of which are now in the Library of Congress,” Chandler wrote in her Kennedy Library article. “The huge volume of his correspondence makes the personal nature of his letters to President Kennedy especially surprising for archivists here,” she said.

“In these letters, he tenaciously argued for the right of gay Americans to work as civil servants,” she said.

In the same May 15, 1961 letter in which he told of his combat service in World War II, Kameny told Kennedy, “Yours is an administration that has openly disavowed blind conformity…You yourself have said, in your recent address at George Washington University, “…that (people) desire to develop their own personalities and their own potential, that democracy permits them to do so.’

“But your government, by its policies certainly does not permit the homosexual to develop his personality and his potential,” Kameny wrote.

In a Feb. 28, 1963 letter, Kameny told Kennedy about his fledgling effort to persuade the American Psychiatric Association to remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders.

“Homosexuality is neither a sickness, disease, neurosis, psychosis, disorder, defect, nor other disturbance, but merely a matter of the predisposition of a significantly large minority of our citizens.”

Chandler said the Kennedy Library’s archivists could find no response from Kennedy or anyone else at the White House to Kameny’s letters.

“In fact, the only response we’ve found in our archives is a brief note from John W. Macy, Chairman of the U.S. Civil Service Commission, to Bruce Schuyler, Secretary of the Mattachine Society, who requested a meeting,” Chandler wrote.

In his note to Schuyler, Macy said, “It is the established policy of the Civil Service Commission that homosexuals are not suitable for appointment to or retention in positions in the Federal service. There would be no useful purpose served in meeting with representatives of your Society.”

Chandler said that in a March 6, 1963 letter to Kennedy, Kameny appeared to be referring to the government’s lack of response to his and the Mattachine Society of Washington’s overtures to the Kennedy administration.

“We wish to cooperate in any way possible, if the chance for friendly, constructive cooperation is offered to us by you,” Kameny wrote, “but if it continues to be refused us, then we will have to seek out and to use any lawful means whatever, which seem to us appropriate, in order to achieve our lawful ends, just as the Negro has done in the South when he was refused cooperation.”

In 1975, after several court rulings against the Civil Service ban on gay employees that Kameny played a role in organizing, the Civil Service Commission ended its prohibition on gay federal workers. In 2009, John Berry, the gay director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the successor to the Civil Service Commission, presented Kameny with an official government apology for his 1958 firing.

“Things have changed,” Chandler quoted Kameny as saying around the time Berry issued the apology with the full backing of President Obama. “How they have changed. I am honored and proud that it is so.”

The Kennedy Library, which is part of the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, highlighted its collection of Kameny correspondence this month as a follow-up to a video that the NARA released in support of the It Gets Better Project, Chandler said.

LGBT rights advocates led by gay author and syndicated columnist Dan Savage created the It Gets Better Project to draw attention to bullying targeting LGBT youth. With President Obama among the political leaders and celebrities who have spoken in an “It Gets Better” video, organizers say the project has helped lift the spirits of many LGBT youth that have suffered from taunts and physical violence.

NARA director David S. Ferriero, who holds the title of Archivist of the United States, recorded a recent “It Gets Better” video that is available for viewing on the NARA website.

“It is so exciting that the Kennedy Library is highlighting Kameny’s letters to President Kennedy,” said Charles Francis, founder of the Kameny Papers Project, which arranged for Kameny’s voluminous correspondence and writings to be given to the Library of Congress.

Francis noted that copies of the Kameny letters to President Kennedy are among the collection at the Library of Congress but that the letters at the Kennedy Library are the originals.

“This was done on Frank’s typewriter from Frank’s living room,” Francis said.

“It’s progress. It’s real progress,” he said of the prominent treatment the Kennedy Library is giving to the Kameny letters.

See the Kennedy Library article on Kameny letters here.

 

20
Jan
2014

In reversal, Kameny heir says no ashes for public memorial

Timothy Clark, gay news, gay politics dc

Timothy Clark, who earlier said he would release half of Frank Kameny’s ashes to be interred at Congressional Cemetery, changed his mind and now plans to inter the ashes at an undisclosed location. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Timothy Clark, the man D.C. gay rights pioneer Frank Kameny named in his will as heir to his estate, has released a statement through his lawyers saying he has decided to inter Kameny’s ashes at an undisclosed location.

The statement released Feb. 20 by the D.C. law firm Ackerman Brown represents a dramatic change from Clark’s earlier statements, including comments in an interview with the Blade in 2012, that he would release half of the ashes for burial at a memorial site in the city’s historic Congressional Cemetery. He reiterated his intent to inter ashes in D.C. in another Blade interview in July 2013.

“We reached an agreement on that so I’m going to keep the burial plot,” Clark said at that time. “I just have to decide on when I want to have something,” he said in referring to a burial ceremony at Congressional Cemetery.

Clark, 37, Kameny’s housemate and longtime friend, had said in the months following Kameny’s death on Oct. 11, 2011, that he planned to keep some but not all of the ashes for his personal reflection and possible interment elsewhere. Kameny died in his Washington home of natural causes at the age of 86.

“The decision regarding interment of Frank Kameny’s ashes rests solely with Timothy Clark, the Personal Representative of the Estate of Franklin E. Kameny,” the Ackerman Brown statement says.

“Mr. Clark has decided to inter the ashes at an undisclosed location. Mr. Clark asks the community to respect his wishes and his privacy,” the statement says.

Clark’s announcement through his attorneys comes more than two years after the local LGBT charitable group Helping Our Brothers and Sisters (HOBS) purchased a burial plot for Kameny’s ashes at Congressional Cemetery.

HOBS and some of Kameny’s gay activist friends and supporters who worked with the group to choose the location of the cemetery site said it would become a monument to Kameny’s legacy and a place where people could go to pay their respects to a nationally known figure considered a hero to the LGBT rights cause.

The site they selected is located just behind the gravesite of the late gay rights leader and U.S. Air Force Sgt. Leonard Matlovich, who, with Kameny’s assistance in 1975, became the first active duty military service member to come out of the closet and challenge the military’s ban on gay service members. Matlovich died in 1987.

A planned ceremony and burial of Kameny’s ashes scheduled for March 2012 was abruptly cancelled at the request of the estate, according to Patrick Crowley, who worked as senior manager of Congressional Cemetery at that time. Lawyers for the Kameny estate wanted HOBS to transfer ownership of the cemetery plot to the estate, Crowley said.

Although HOBS agreed to the transfer, a dispute arose over the terms of an agreement proposed by lawyers for both parties, and negotiations dragged on for nearly two years.

Last July, both sides said a tentative agreement had been reached, raising hopes among Kameny’s friends and admirers that a burial ceremony and the official opening of a Kameny memorial site at Congressional Cemetery would soon take place.

“The estate has always been, and remains willing to work with gay community representatives who knew Frank Kameny in organizing a burial service and appropriate gravesite at which members of the community could pay tribute to Kameny,” said attorney Christopher Brown of Ackerman Brown at that time.

However, no announcement of an agreement emerged since that time. When Ackerman Brown released its statement last week saying Clark decided to inter the ashes at an undisclosed location, neither Ackerman Brown nor HOBS would disclose where things stood with the cemetery plot.

“The estate has no further comment,” said Glen Ackerman, principal partner of Ackerman Brown, in a Feb. 23 email to the Blade.

Matthew Cook, an attorney with the national law firm Fried Frank, which is representing HOBS, sent the Blade a separate statement from HOBS that made no mention of whether ownership of the cemetery plot had been transferred to the estate or whether HOBS would seek to set up another memorial site for Kameny at Congressional Cemetery.

“Dr. Kameny was a true gay rights pioneer and local legend,” the HOBS statement says. “HOBS was proud to work with and for Dr. Kameny during the last years of his life. Of course, as the executor of the Kameny Estate, it is Mr. Clark’s decision where to inter Dr. Kameny’s ashes.”

Veteran D.C. gay activist Paul Kuntzler, who worked with Kameny on gay rights activities beginning in 1962, and San Francisco gay activist Michael Bedwell, a friend of Kameny’s, each told the Blade that the LGBT community should now take immediate steps to arrange for another memorial site for Kameny at Congressional Cemetery, even though the ashes won’t be interred there.

The four local activists and Kameny friends who initiated plans to inter Kameny’s ashes at Congressional Cemetery in early 2012 – Marvin Carter, CEO of HOBS and LGBT rights advocates Charles Francis, Bob Witeck and Rick Rosendall – have declined to comment on Clark’s decision to inter the ashes at another location.

They also declined to comment on what, if anything, they may do to set up a Kameny memorial site at the cemetery now that the ashes are out of the picture.

“Frank Kameny’s monumental legacy may be best remembered by laws he helped overturn, the hateful policies he defeated and the causes of equal rights he unselfishly advanced for the LGBT community,” said Witeck in an email statement on Sunday.

The relationship between the four men and the Kameny estate became strained in 2012 shortly after they announced plans for a Congressional Cemetery memorial site and burial when Clark stated through his attorneys that Clark was never given the courtesy of being consulted about those plans.

Carter, however, has said Clark was informed about the plans and invited to participate in the planned ceremony.

The relationship between the four men and the estate became further strained when the estate filed individual lawsuits against each of them, charging that they took without permission items from Kameny’s house that belonged to the estate shortly after Kameny’s death. The men disputed the allegations, saying Clark along with Clark’s lawyer at the time, Michele Zavos, gave them permission to enter the house and take an inventory of Kameny’s papers and other possessions to arrange for their safe keeping.

The lawsuits, which were filed by Ackerman Brown on Clark’s behalf, were later dropped after undisclosed settlements were reached in three of the cases. The court dismissed the case against Rosendall on grounds that no cause was shown to justify the complaint, according to Rosendall’s attorney, Mindy Daniels.

Upon learning of Clark’s decision to inter the ashes in an undisclosed location, Bedwell expressed concern that Clark, who among other things, inherited Kameny’s house that the estate sold in 2012 for $725,000, was not doing his part to promote Kameny’s legacy.

“Frank’s trust and affection made Mr. Clark a wealthy man,” Bedwell said. “His sacrifices helped make him, like all LGBTs, a freer man,” Bedwell said.

“Now that Mr. Clark has disappeared with Frank’s ashes along with any hopes of his repaying Frank’s extraordinary generous friendship by sharing them for a memorial, I trust that others will create one without them,” he said.

Clark didn’t respond to a phone message from the Blade this week.

In a 2012 interview with the Blade, Clark described himself as a private person who shunned the spotlight, saying he intentionally remained in the background during the 19 years he lived in Kameny’s house.

Frank Kameny, gay news, gay politics dc

(Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Also remaining unclear this week is what will become of a headstone and separate grave marker that HOBS and the activists working with the group installed at the cemetery site before the dispute with the estate surfaced.

Francis, the founder of the Kameny Papers Project, which arranged several years before Kameny’s death to have Kameny’s voluminous collection of letters and gay rights documents donated to the Library of Congress, obtained the headstone from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Francis and others working on the memorial site said the military headstone would recognize Kameny’s role as a World War II combat veteran. The stone is identical to gravestones used for soldiers and veterans buried at Arlington National Cemetery, and is issued free of charge to all deceased military veterans.

HOBS purchased a separate footstone inscribed with the slogan Kameny coined in the 1960s, “Gay is Good.” Carter said HOBS paid for the footstone along with the cemetery plot through funds donated by members of the LGBT community.

HOBS had both stones installed at the gravesite in March 2012 in anticipation that plans for burial of the ashes would move forward as planned.

Cemetery officials later removed the headstone and the “Gay is Good” marker and placed them in storage, saying it was inappropriate for them to remain in place while the ownership of the gravesite was in dispute.

Bedwell, who has played a role in managing the Matlovich gravesite, said he owns a separate plot next to the Matlovich site that he offered to donate for the Kameny burial shortly after Kameny died. HOBS instead chose to buy a plot a short distance away. Now, Bedwell said he is open to donating the plot he owns for a new Kameny memorial site at the cemetery.

“Neither [Clark’s] permission or Frank’s ashes are required for anyone to create a memorial to Frank anywhere,” Bedwell said in a comment to the Blade in October. “Millions more visit Lincoln’s Memorial in Washington every year than his actual gravesite in Springfield, Ill.,” he said.

“I’m confident many would be eager to contribute to the purchase of another marker bearing Frank’s name,” Bedwell said, in the event that the Veterans Administration stone or the “Gay is Good” stone won’t be released by the estate.

Ackerman, while repeating his firm’s written statement that the Kameny estate would have no further comment on Clark’s decision to inter the ashes in a private location, said the estate would welcome inquiries “by anyone” interested in establishing a public memorial for Kameny.

“All they have to do is call us,” he said.

25
Feb
2014

An end to Kameny burial stalemate?

Frank Kameny, gay news, Washington Blade

Frank Kameny died in October 2011 but his ashes remain in limbo due to a dispute between his estate and a local non-profit. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

An attorney representing the estate of nationally acclaimed gay rights pioneer Frank Kameny said on Wednesday that a “tentative agreement” has been reached to end a dispute that has prevented Kameny’s ashes from being interred at D.C.’s Congressional Cemetery nearly two years after his death.

Christopher Brown, an attorney with the gay-owned law firm Ackerman Brown, said the tentative agreement was reached on July 9 with Helping Our Brothers and Sisters (HOBS), a local LGBT charitable group that bought a plot for the burial of Kameny’s ashes at Congressional Cemetery after soliciting donations from the community to pay for it following Kameny’s death on Oct. 11, 2011.

Brown’s comment came one day after Ackerman Brown’s client, Timothy Clark, Kameny’s longtime friend and heir to his estate, told the Blade that he understood that an agreement between the two parties over the cemetery plot had been reached.

“We reached an agreement on that so I’m going to keep the burial plot,” Clark said in a telephone interview.

“I just have to decide on when I want to have something,” he said in referring to a burial ceremony at the cemetery. “I just don’t know. But I’m open to any suggestions that anybody wants to have because that was Frank’s life. The gay community was Frank’s life. That’s what he fought for.”

HOBS and a group of Kameny’s friends and colleagues in the LGBT rights movement initially scheduled an interment ceremony for Kameny at the cemetery for March 3, 2012. But they abruptly cancelled it after the estate reportedly told the cemetery it would not release Kameny’s ashes until it obtained legal ownership of the burial plot from HOBS.

For more than a year, HOBS and Ackerman Brown have declined to publicly disclose specific details of the nature of the dispute between the two parties over the burial plot other than to say they were negotiating an agreement to enable HOBS to transfer ownership of the plot to the estate.

“[W]e would point out that HOBS has never stood in the way of or delayed the burial of Dr. Kameny’s ashes,” said HOBS President Marvin Carter in an email to the Blade earlier this month. “HOBS has made numerous proposals and overtures to the Kameny estate to have Dr. Kameny’s remains buried at Congressional Cemetery.”

Brown told the Blade in an email on Wednesday that the estate, which is in possession of Kameny’s ashes, also is interested in moving ahead with the burial.

“The estate has always been, and remains willing to work with gay community representatives who knew Frank Kameny in organizing a burial service and appropriate gravesite at which members of the community could pay tribute to Kameny,” Brown said in his email.

In response to a request from the Blade last month, HOBS on Wednesday released information about the money it raised and spent both for Kameny’s personal needs in the last years of his life and for expenses related to Kameny’s funeral and planned burial.

HOBS’s IRS 990 finance reports filed with the IRS for 2010 and 2011 – the most recent such reports publicly available for HOBS – don’t include specific information about money raised for Kameny-related projects.

But the reports show that HOBS’s income increased dramatically in 2010 and 2011 during a period when the non-profit, tax-exempt group and its supporters appealed to the LGBT community for Kameny-related donations — initially to help Kameny pay household expenses and property taxes and later for Kameny’s funeral and burial.

The 990 reports, which all tax-exempt organizations are required to file, show that HOBS’s income was $2,125 in 2008, the first year for which such figures are reported, and $6,544 in 2009. The reports show that in 2010, HOBS’s income rose to $61,480 and in 2011 its income increased to $115,440.

In an op-ed column published in the Blade just before the Thanksgiving holiday in November 2011, Carter discussed efforts by HOBS and other groups and individuals to arrange two separate memorial services for Kameny, one of which was held at the Carnegie Library building in downtown D.C.

“Thus far, with the generosity of many friends, we have covered expenses for Kameny’s viewing at Carnegie Library and his essential funeral costs, too,” which Carter later explained involved paying for Kameny’s cremation and the rental of a casket and the service of a funeral hearse for the viewing ceremony.

“In addition, we have now paid the deposit on a fitting, public gravesite for Kameny at the historic Congressional Cemetery,” he said in the op-ed. “For all who wish to help raise the remaining $4,000 anticipated; you may make your tax-deductible contribution online…or simply mail a check to HOBS…”

The Blade and other local publications also published stories on HOBS’s Kameny-related fundraising activities for the funeral and burial and efforts by HOBS to help Kameny prior to his death.

One effort organized by local gay activist Ben Carver in 2010 was billed as the “Buy Frank a Drink” campaign, which Carver promoted on a Facebook page.

HOBS’s 990 report for 2012, which would include that year’s income, has yet to be released by the charitable watchdog group Guidestar.com, which obtains 990 reports for nearly all U.S. non-profit groups each year from the IRS. HOBS’s 990 report for 2010 was filed in November 2011, and its 2011 report was filed in November 2012. This suggests that its 2012 990 report will likely be filed in November of this year.

The 2011 report shows that HOBS during that year spent $66,413 on “direct support to qualified individuals,” $20,222 on “mentoring programs,” and $11,605 on “educational programs.”

Those three programs, which came to a total of $98,240, accounted for the bulk of HOBS’s expenditures for that year. The 2011 report shows that all other expenses were under $4,000 and were for administrative and overhead expenses such as supplies ($3,727), board meetings ($1,007), Internet ($1,555), meals and entertainment ($505), and telephone ($1,494). More detail on those reported expenses wasn’t available.

Carter discussed HOBS’s mission in an email he sent the Blade on July 24, which also provided information about money HOBS raised and spent on Kameny-related projects.

Frank Kameny, Marvin Carter, Dan Choi, Washington Blade, gay news, HOBS, Helping Our Brothers and Sisters

The late Frank Kameny (left) standing next to Marvin Carter at a HOBS benefit dinner in 2010. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

HOBS “is an all-volunteer micro-charity that helps marginalized LGBT individuals in our community to meet short-term and often life-sustaining needs,” Carter said. “We focus on helping those who often do not fit the criteria for help from other organizations or agencies – filling gaps in human distress here in Washington, D.C.  A sizable portion of our work involves discrimination cases too, many involving torture and asylum,” said Carter, referring to cases noted on the group’s website in which HOBS assists LGBT foreign nationals seeking U.S. political asylum to escape persecution in their home country.

“Before his passing, HOBS assisted Dr. Kameny frequently with some of his essential needs, including transportation for doctor’s appointments, the use of a mobile phone, groceries and meals, urgent bathroom plumbing repairs, repair of his eyewear, and the payment of past property tax bills to prevent his home foreclosure – spending in total thousands of dollars in the years before his death,” Carter said.

Carter provided these figures and related information in connection with the contributions HOBS received and expenditures it incurred for Kameny-related projects in 2010 and 2011:

  • Contributions earmarked by donors for Kameny’s burial expenses totaled about $800.
  • Other donors “make clear that their donations may be used for HOBS’ general mission,” were silent about how to use the donations.
  • During this period, “approximately $15,000 was raised in connection with our general fundraising efforts.”
  • HOBS incurred expenses totaling approximately $8,500 related to the purchase of a cemetery plot for Kameny at Congressional Cemetery, cremation expenses and “other expenses of the funeral home (including rental of a casket and hearse for transporting Dr. Kameny’s ashes to the memorial service…and a gravesite marker reading ‘Gay is Good.’”
  • There was no surplus of funds from contributions for Kameny’s burial and memorial service efforts. HOBS used money from its general operating account to cover the Kameny funeral and burial expenses not covered by earmarked donations.
  • HOBS did not solicit funds for payment of Kameny’s property taxes in 2011. It did raise money for and contributed to Kameny’s property tax payments in 2010.
25
Jul
2013

Library of Congress acquires papers of Lilli Vincenz

Lilli Vincenz, gay news, Washington Blade

Lilli Vincenz was a pioneer in the gay rights movement beginning in the early 1960s. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Lilli Vincenz, 75, a D.C.-area resident who worked with Frank Kameny as a pioneer in the gay rights movement beginning in the early 1960s, has donated to the Library of Congress some 10,000 papers, photographs, 16-mm films and memorabilia collected over a period of 50 years.

In a statement released on July 25, the Library of Congress said the papers and other items, which document Vincenz’s “personal biography and the larger gay rights movement,” will be available to researchers and the public once the materials are organized and catalogued.

The statement notes that Vincenz was one of the first lesbian members of the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C., the nation’s first full-fledged gay civil rights organization co-founded by Kameny and then D.C. gay activist Jack Nichols. It says Vincenz became the first editor of the organization’s newsletter, The Homosexual Citizen.

In that capacity, Vincenz and lesbian activist Nancy Tucker co-founded in 1969 an independent gay newspaper as a spinoff of the Mattachine newsletter called the Gay Blade, which later evolved into the Washington Blade

“She marched in the historic [gay rights] picket of the White House on April 17, 1965, participated in annual July 4th gay rights demonstrations in Philadelphia, and was part of the delegation that met with U.S. Civil Service Commission officials in 1965 to discuss the continued federal ban on hiring homosexuals,” the Library of Congress statement says.

“Vincenz was also an early member of the Daughters of Bilitis, a national lesbian rights organization, wrote a bi-weekly column for the New York-based Gay magazine, and was interviewed often by the media with other lesbian leaders,” the statement says.

The Library of Congress statement says the donation of Vincenz’s papers was made through her agent, Charles Francis, the co-founder of the Kameny Papers Project, which donated Kameny’s papers to the Library of Congress in 2006.

Vincenz and her partner Nancy Davis live in Arlington, Va.

30
Jul
2013

Kameny to be honored in Chicago history exhibit

Frank Kameny, gay news, Washington Blade

Frank Kameny’s plaque will be exhibited at the Chicago Legacy Walk. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The late D.C. gay rights pioneer Frank Kameny will be inducted on Oct. 11, the second anniversary of his death, into Chicago’s Legacy Walk, an outdoor LGBT history exhibit that commemorates the lives of historically significant LGBT people.

Victor Salvo, founder and executive director of the Chicago-based Legacy Project, which operates the Legacy Walk, told the Blade that among the others to be inducted into the exhibit this year along with Kameny is American poet Walt Whitman.

In what some have described as a unique outdoor museum, the Legacy Walk consists of at least 17 25-foot-tall decorative “Rainbow Pylons” placed along a half-mile section of North Halsted Street in Chicago’s Lake View neighborhood, which is known for its high concentration of LGBT residents and visitors.

Attached to each of the pylons are between one or more 18-inch by 24-inch bronze plaques that include a photo image and written description of one of the LGBT people inducted into the Legacy Walk exhibit. Eighteen of the plaques were installed on the pylons in October 2012 in the first phase of the exhibit, according to a write-up on its website. New plaques are to be added each year, with some of the existing ones rotated into an indoor exhibit hall scheduled to open in 2014, the write up says.

“Some of the plaques will commemorate significant events in GLBT history, but most will posthumously memorialize the lives and work of notable gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender individuals whose achievement have helped shape the world – but whose contributions, sexual orientation or gender identity have been overlooked, minimized or censored entirely from most historic texts,” the Legacy Walk website says.

Kameny has been credited with playing a key role in shaping the U.S. LGBT rights movement beginning in the early 1960s as co-founder of the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C., the city’s first gay rights organization. Kameny became the first known gay person to contest in the federal courts his dismissal from his job as an astronomer for the federal government because of his sexual orientation.

Others inducted into the Legacy Walk in 2012 include African-American civil rights leader Bayard Rustin; writer and novelist James Baldwin; British artificial intelligence researcher Alan Turing; British writer and novelist Oscar Wilde; U.S. lesbian activist and 1960s era gay rights pioneer and Kameny colleague Barbara Gittings; and San Francisco Supervisor and gay rights leader Harvey Milk.

04
Sep
2013

LGBT museum seeks to preserve our history

Frank Kameny, Velvet Foundation, LGBT museum, gay news, Washington Blade

The LGBT museum has collected nearly 5,000 artifacts from figures such as Greg Louganis, Bayard Rustin, Tyler Clementi, and Frank Kameny. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

By CHRIS KANE

There is an abundance of artifacts that represent the history and culture of the LGBT communities. Items like the walking stick that once belonged to gay civil rights pioneer Bayard Rustin, or foundational documents that established the first gay rights organization, the Mattachine Society, are scattered throughout the country.

Many of these artifacts have already been discarded, lost or destroyed. But the National LGBT Museum, which is making strides toward acquiring a building to house the first national historical institution for the community, was created to redress this problem—and also to celebrate, showcase and share our history through these artifacts. The museum has reached a milestone by completing the preliminary work of establishing a business model, creating a fundraising/development plan, collecting market research, and assembling a team of experts who comprise the board and leadership councils.

So far, the museum has collected nearly 5,000 artifacts from figures such as Greg Louganis, Bayard Rustin, Tyler Clementi, and Frank Kameny. These objects (many of which were destined for the landfill) will have the platform afforded by a cultural institution in our nation’s capital, because they document episodic moments in LGBT history. For example, when Greg Louganis’ head collided with the diving platform during the 1988 Seoul Olympics, misinformation about HIV led to concern over whether other divers risked infection by the virus. This story, told through artifacts donated by the diver, is an integral part of LGBT history, and Louganis’ two gold medal-winning dives were a momentous Olympic victory for the United States.

The value of artifacts owned by LGBT figures or organizations is incalculable. The National LGBT Museum is in the process of collecting artifacts from all over the country in order to preserve and share them with the public. Its Collections Committee, comprised of museum professionals who have worked for institutions like the Smithsonian and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, emphasizes the importance of collaborating as a community to preserve objects that represent our history and culture. And because the project is national in scope, the museum aims to represent, with these objects, stories and narratives from cities and small towns alike—including, especially, those which involve women, people of color, and other constituencies that are often neglected or underrepresented within the community and political movements.

The museum provides another corollary reason for which it is important to collect and safeguard artifacts: to contend with the political and social forces that seek to set the community back. One function of cultural institutions is to protect and showcase the difficult aspects of history respective to politically disenfranchised communities to guard against oppression, marginalization, intolerance and prejudice in the future. Contributions from individuals and organizations play an integral part in helping the National LGBT Museum accomplish this objective. An institution that elucidates our country’s history of homophobia can reach both those who have lived this history and those who have not.

It is often the case that people undervalue the items they own or do not understand their contextual significance. For this reason, the National LGBT Museum is looking for any and all artifacts, and its permanent collection includes a breadth of objects ranging from letters/correspondence to musical instruments and protest signs. All materials are housed in a professional museum storage facility in Forestville, MD. Questions regarding the Museum’s collections and artifact storage/handling procedures can be directed to Jarrett Zeman at 616-717-2441 and donations can be shipped to Ely, Inc. at: 4110 Forestville Road, Forestville, MD 20747 (c/o National LGBT Museum).

Chris Kane is project coordinator for the Velvet Foundation. Reach him at ckane@velvetfoundation.org.

02
Oct
2013

Kameny’s ashes still not buried 2 years after death

Frank Kameny, gay news, Washington Blade

Activist Frank Kameny died on Oct. 11, 2011. His remains have not yet been buried. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

A memorial site recognizing the legacy of the late D.C. gay rights pioneer Frank Kameny was scheduled to be unveiled Friday, Oct. 11, in Chicago on the second anniversary of his death while plans for the burial of his ashes in Washington remain stalled.

New information behind that unusual turn of events emerged this week from one of the parties in a dispute over ownership of the planned interment site for Kameny’s ashes in D.C.’s historic Congressional Cemetery.

Marvin Carter, executive director of the local LGBT charitable group Helping Our Brothers and Sisters (HOBS), said his attorney told him an agreement reached about two months ago in which HOBS would transfer ownership of the cemetery plot to the Kameny estate was awaiting the signature of Timothy Clark, Kameny’s friend, housemate and principal heir to the estate.

“The last update I got was we are all in agreement but Ackerman Brown cannot find Clark to sign the paperwork,” Carter told the Blade.

Carter was referring to the D.C. law firm Ackerman Brown, which has represented Clark in legal matters pertaining to the estate since shortly after Kameny died in his home of natural causes on National Coming Out Day on Oct. 11, 2011. In his will, Kameny left his house and all other possessions except his voluminous gay rights papers to Clark. He bequeathed his papers to the Library of Congress. Kameny’s house sold last year for $725,000.

Glen Ackerman, managing partner of Ackerman Brown, emailed a statement to the Blade this week disputing Carter’s assertion that Clark can’t be found.

“Ackerman Brown is in regular contact with Timothy Clark, the personal representative of the Estate of Frank E. Kameny and all negotiations on behalf of our client have been in good faith,” the statement said. “The decision regarding interment of Frank Kameny’s ashes rests solely with Mr. Clark and he is discharging his duties with full knowledge of the past negotiations. Neither Marvin Carter nor his attorney have ever discussed the placement of a monument in lieu of the cemetery plot with Ackerman Brown.”

Ackerman noted that the status of the negotiations between Ackerman Brown and HOBS over the ownership transfer of the cemetery plot had not changed since July. At that time, Ackerman’s law partner, Christopher Brown, said a “tentative agreement” had been reached to end the dispute that has prevented Kameny’s ashes from being interred for nearly two years.

“The tentative agreement was reached on July 9 and the estate is awaiting further input from HOBS’ counsel that is necessary to finalize the transaction,” Brown said in a July 24 statement to the Blade.

“The estate has always been, and remains willing to work with gay community representatives who knew Frank Kameny in organizing a burial service and appropriate gravesite at which members of the community could pay tribute to Kameny,” Brown said in his July statement.

Earlier this year, Carter said HOBS dropped a previous condition that called for the Kameny estate to pay HOBS for the cemetery plot that HOBS purchased with money donated by members of the LGBT community.

“We are not asking for a dime from the estate,” Carter told the Blade in an Oct. 4 interview. “The delay is not on our end.”

Carter said that once the tentative agreement was reached the two parties asked Congressional Cemetery President Paul Williams to draft the documents needed to finalize the ownership transfer of the cemetery plot.

When contacted by the Blade last week, Williams said he could not provide details but suggested the long-awaited resolution to the dispute was in the hands of Clark and his attorneys.

“We have put forth a proposal to the estate and we’re waiting to hear back,” he said. “That’s about all I can say. We’re just waiting to hear back.”

Timothy Clark, gay news, gay politics dc

Timothy Clark (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Clark said in August, one day prior to Brown’s statement to the Blade, that he understood an agreement had been reached over the cemetery plot. He said he was thinking about when to arrange for a burial ceremony and that he would welcome suggestions from Kameny’s friends and fellow activists about the details for such a ceremony.

Clark didn’t respond to a phone message from the Blade this week.

HOBS and a group of Kameny’s friends and colleagues in the LGBT rights movement initially scheduled an interment ceremony for Kameny at Congressional Cemetery for March 3, 2012. At the time, Charles Francis, a Kameny friend who helped Kameny organize his papers to facilitate their donation to the Library of Congress, arranged for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to provide a military headstone for the gravesite that recognized Kameny’s service in the Army in World War II.

With money raised by HOBS, Francis and Kameny’s friends and fellow activists Rick Rosendall and Bob Witeck also arranged for the purchase of a separate headstone for the gravesite bearing the inscription “Gay is Good.” Kameny, who coined that slogan in the 1960s to advance the cause of gay rights, said it was something for which he wanted to be remembered as much if not more than any of his other accomplishments.

But just as both stones were placed at the gravesite, Witeck announced that the burial of Kameny’s ashes had been cancelled after the estate told the cemetery it would not release Kameny’s ashes until it obtained legal ownership of the burial plot from HOBS. Cemetery officials later removed the headstone and “Gay is Good” marker and placed them in storage, saying it was inappropriate for them to remain in place while the ownership of the gravesite was in dispute.

Michael Bedwell, a longtime friend and gay activist colleague of Kameny’s who helped select the gravesite, said the removal of the two stones displaced an important and historic site where people could go to reflect on Kameny’s accomplishments, which he said improved the lives of LGBT people.

“It is a disgrace that people don’t have a place to pay homage to him two years after his passing,” Bedwell said. “I feel those stones should be returned to the site even if the ashes are not interred there at this time.”

Tension between the Kameny estate and Carter, Francis, Witeck and Rosendall increased in the months following the cancellation of the burial when the estate sued the four men on grounds that they removed without permission items from Kameny’s house shortly after his death. The four said they removed the items for safekeeping at a time of confusion following Kameny’s death when Clark, who was living in the house at the time, gave them permission to enter the house to sort through Kameny’s belongings. They said they planned to return the items, some of which were papers slated to go to the Library of Congress.

Rosendall said this week that the men were accompanied by local attorney Michele Zavos when they entered Kameny’s house shortly after his death. Zavos had worked for Kameny and prepared his will, Rosendall said.

Zavos on Wednesday confirmed that she was present during that visit. She said Clark gave them permission to enter the house and that he understood that Rosendall and the other men wanted to look through Kameny’s papers and other historic items to take steps to preserve them.

According to Zavos, it was during that visit that Rosendall, Francis and Witeck found the original signed copy of Kameny’s will and turned it over to Zavos, who read and explained its provision to Clark.

“Tim was completely aware of what we were doing,” she said.

Rosendall added that he was especially troubled when Clark told the Blade in an interview in March 2012 that someone placed an anonymous letter in the mail slot at Kameny’s house where Clark was living that used a racial slur and denounced him for being the beneficiary in Kameny’s will.

“And that’s just horrible for anybody to say,” Clark said in the 2012 interview. “It said, ‘The nigger got everything.’”

When the Blade asked to see the letter, Clark claimed it was so upsetting to him that he discarded it in the trash before realizing it may have been better to keep it and have others help him discover the person who wrote it.

Rosendall, however, said Clark’s disclosure of the letter at a time when the Kameny estate was making public statements accusing him, Carter, Witeck and Francis of improperly taking items from the house could have raised suspicions that they may have been responsible for the anonymous hate letter.

“I was not under any impression that he had made an explicit accusation,” Rosendall said this week. “The whole point was he throws that out there as red meat and there is an implication that somebody else that he was talking about was to blame for it.”

The Blade requested a response from Ackerman to Rosendall’s statements about the hate letter. The Blade further asked Ackerman if anyone besides Clark saw the letter and could corroborate its existence. Ackerman emailed the following statement: “The questions you ask regarding the letter are not relevant to this firm’s representation of the Estate of Franklin E. Kameny and any comment on this topic would be inappropriate.”

10
Oct
2013

Former senator to participate in mock trial of Joe McCarthy

Joe McCarthy, Roy Cohn, House Un-American Activities Committee, gay news, Washington Blade

Joe McCarthy and Roy Cohn. (Photo public domain)

Former U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.) and gay former Assistant U.S. Attorney General Robert Raben will be among a cast of prominent attorneys participating in a “mock trial” in D.C. of the late U.S. Senators Joe McCarthy (R-Wis.), Styles Bridges (R-N.H.), and Herman Welker (R-Idaho).

The three deceased senators are to be “charged” at the trial with blackmailing and causing the suicide of fellow Sen. Lester Hunt (D-Wyo.) over a 1954 gay sex scandal involving Hunt’s son, who was arrested for allegedly soliciting an undercover D.C. police officer for sodomy. The mock trial, to be performed as a “readers’ theater” play, is scheduled to take place Oct. 23 at All Souls Unitarian Church at 16th and Harvard Streets, N.W.

According to a newly published book on which the mock trial is based, “Dying For Joe McCarthy’s Sins: The Suicide of Wyoming Senator Lester Hunt,” McCarthy and the other two senators hatched a scheme to force Hunt to resign and withdraw from running for re-election to the Senate. The book says the senators threatened to publicize the arrest of Hunt’s son at a time when homosexuality was considered taboo and a mental disorder.

Hunt emerged as a vocal critic of McCarthy and his notorious crusade in the 1950s against what he claimed were communists working in prominent roles in the U.S. government, including the State Department and the Army, to subvert the government. In a less publicized crusade, McCarthy also pushed hard for exposing and expelling gays who worked for the government, according to historians that have studied McCarthy’s career as a senator.

Author Rodger McDaniel reports McCarthy and the other two senators wanted to force the highly popular Hunt into dropping out of his re-election bid at a time when Democrats controlled the Senate by just one vote. Hunt’s ouster was expected to result in the appointment and later the election of a Republican to replace him, enabling Republicans to gain control of the Senate and strengthen McCarthy’s hand at what critics called communist witch hunts.

In addition to Simpson and Raben, others scheduled to participate in the mock trial are gay Republican attorney and U.S. elections finance expert Trevor Potter, who will play the prosecutor; D.C. lesbian attorney Mindy Daniels, who will act as the defense attorney; retired Wyoming Supreme Court Justice Michael Golden, who will preside over the mock trial; and Verizon legislative affairs executive Ed Senn, who will play McCarthy.

The Mattachine Society of Washington, co-founded by the late D.C. gay rights pioneer Frank Kameny, is sponsoring the event at the direction of gay rights advocate Charles Francis. Francis and gay activist Rick Rosendall reinstated the corporate charter for the Mattachine Society of Washington as a new organization after Kameny allowed the charter to expire shortly before his death.

16
Oct
2013

LGBT veterans honored at Congressional Cemetery

Veteran's Day, Leonard Matlovitch, gay news, Washington Blade

Gay and lesbian military service members participated in a Veterans Day wreath laying ceremony on Monday. (Photo by Patsy Lynch)

A contingent of active-duty and retired gay and lesbian military service members and their supporters participated in a Veterans Day wreath laying ceremony on Monday in D.C.’s Congressional Cemetery to honor LGBT service members, including those who lost their lives while serving their country.

The event took place at the gravesite of Air Force Sgt. Leonard Matlovich, who in 1975 became the first active duty service member to challenge the military’s ban on gays. The Air Force provided a formal military burial for Matlovich in Congressional Cemetery at the time of his death in 1988 as LGBT activists recognized his role as a champion in the cause of lifting the ban on gays in the military.

Lt. Col. Todd Burton, a member of the Army National Guard who organized the Veterans Day tribute, said the Matlovich gravesite was selected because Matlovich intended the site to be used as a tribute to all LGBT service members. Burton organized the event on behalf of Outserve/Service Members Legal Defense Network, a national group representing LGBT service members.

“It’s a privilege to gather here with fellow service members to honor one of our own,” Burton said. “What an honor to be able to do this together.”

About 20 participants gathered around the gravesite as Burton told of Matlovich’s role as a leading force in the movement to end the military’s ban on gays. Although Matlovich didn’t live to see that happen, Burton said he became an inspiration for succeeding generations of LGBT service members.

Burton noted that the ashes of D.C. gay rights leader Frank Kameny, who counseled Matlovich during Matlovich’s challenge of the military’s gay ban, would soon be buried at a site in the cemetery close to the Matlovich gravesite. Kameny, a World War II combat veteran, died in 2011.

As Burton completed his tribute, Sr. Master Sgt. Kevin Murphy of the Air Force and Sr. U.S. Navy Chief Dwayne Beebe-Franqui — both wearing military uniforms — placed a wreath behind the Matlovich gravesite’s internationally recognized headstone.

Matlovich anonymously arranged for the headstone’s placement at the cemetery prior to his death. He told friends and associates that he wanted it to be used to honor all LGBT service members.

The stone is made of the same black granite used in the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall located on the National Mall. Matlovich arranged for pink triangles to be embedded into the headstone in reference to the symbol used to identify gay men in Nazi concentration camps and which later became an international symbol for gay rights.

As a veteran who served in combat during the Vietnam War, Matlovich also had inscribed in the headstone a statement now widely known in the LGBT rights movement: “They gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one.”

Matlovich’s name was placed in a separate footstone at the gravesite shortly after his death.

“I’m honored to stand here right now,” said Beebe-Franqui shortly after placing the wreath at the gravesite.

“I survived the entire ordeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’” he said, noting that’s he’s been in the Navy 21 years. “I never thought it was going to go away and when it finally did it was just an amazing day for everyone. And that’s why for all those years of having to hide, I decided to not hide anymore and stand and be a leader in the Navy and to support LGBT troops.”

Beebe-Franqui, who was accompanied at the ceremony by his husband, Jonathan Beebe-Franqui, said the two live together on a Navy base in Nashville, Tenn., where he’s currently stationed.

During the ceremony, Burton called on the gathering to observe a moment of silence to honor four gay male service members and one lesbian service member who died in action while serving in the military. The five are Lloyd Darling, who was killed in Vietnam in 1968; Alan Rogers, killed in Iraq in 2008; Andy Wilfahrt, killed in Afghanistan in 2011; Donna Johnson, killed in Afghanistan in 2012; and Reid Nishizuka, killed in Afghanistan in 2013.

12
Nov
2013