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Frank Kameny | Source: Getty Images
Source: Frank Kameny | Source: Getty Images

25 Frank Kameny Quotes from the Prolific Gay Rights Activist

Dayna Remus
Sep 23, 2022
04:30 P.M.
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"Gay is Good" are the words Frank Kameny came up with when trying to fight for gay rights from the mid-50s onwards. Sadly he is now gone, but these words, as well as many others, remind us why it's essential to stand up for what we believe.

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The late Frank Kameny laid historical cornerstones for LGBTQ+ movements in the United States and globally. His passion for fighting for gay rights was fueled when he was fired from his job as a government astronomer because of his sexual orientation.

He then filed the first Civil Rights claim related to sexuality in America. Sadly, he lost, but this was just the beginning of a life dedicated to gay people's liberation.

Among many accomplishments, he was the first openly gay individual to run for Congress and was imperative in getting homosexuality depathologized. He was also vital in lifting a federal ban that prohibited LGBTQ+ individuals from working in the public sector. To learn more about this historical figure, read some of his one-liners below:

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Frank Kameny's quote: "But meanwhile, by that time, I had decided that basically what this amounted to was a declaration of war against me by my government. A, I don't grant my government the right to declare war against me. And, B, I tend not to lose my wars." | Image: AmoDays

Frank Kameny's quote: "But meanwhile, by that time, I had decided that basically what this amounted to was a declaration of war against me by my government. A, I don't grant my government the right to declare war against me. And, B, I tend not to lose my wars." | Image: AmoDays

Powerful Frank Kameny Quotes

"I have decided not to adjust myself to society, but with considerable success, I've adjusted society to me, and society is much better off for the adjustments I have made." — Frank Kameny

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"The person who really needs the psychotherapy…is not the homosexual youngster who gets dragged to the psychiatrist's office by his mother, but the mother, to relieve her anxieties about his homosexuality." — Frank Kameny

"Things do move ahead, and I feel very satisfied that I have a level of responsibility in that forward motion. There's still a lot to be done." — Frank Kameny

"We've moved forward in that time beyond anything we have dreamed of back in the '1960s when I got going." — Frank Kameny

"Being the first is hard sometimes, but you have to push things, and you have you have to establish your principles." — Frank Kameny

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Frank Kameny's quote: "The person who really needs the psychotherapy…is not the homosexual youngster who gets dragged to the psychiatrist's office by his mother, but the mother, to relieve her anxieties about his homosexuality." | Image: AmoDays

Frank Kameny's quote: "The person who really needs the psychotherapy…is not the homosexual youngster who gets dragged to the psychiatrist's office by his mother, but the mother, to relieve her anxieties about his homosexuality." | Image: AmoDays

"Not only is homosexuality, whether by inclination or overt act, not immoral, but homosexual acts engaged in by consenting adults are moral, in a positive and real sense." — Frank Kameny

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"In 1968, I coined the slogan 'Gay is Good,' which underlies everything that I've been doing and trying to do. It's the one thing that I want to be remembered for if nothing else." — Frank Kameny

"If I disagree with someone, I give them a chance to convince me they are right. And if they fail, then I am right, and they are wrong, and I will just have to fight them until they change." — Frank Kameny

"He was the up and equal homosexual who would not sit at the back of the bus." — Frank Kameny

"We are interested in obtaining rights for our respective minorities." — Frank Kameny

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Frank Kameny's quote: "Not only is homosexuality, whether by inclination or overt act, not immoral, but homosexual acts engaged in by consenting adults are moral, in a positive and real sense." | Image: AmoDays

Frank Kameny's quote: "Not only is homosexuality, whether by inclination or overt act, not immoral, but homosexual acts engaged in by consenting adults are moral, in a positive and real sense." | Image: AmoDays

"We intend to tolerate no slights, no disparaging innuendos, no jeers, no jibes or taunts, no disparaging remarks of any kind against homosexuality or against homosexuals. In a pluralistic society, we are entitled not only to our way of life but also to respect for it by our government as an equal to all other ways of life." — Frank Kameny

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Frank Kameny Quotes about His Time Spent in the Army

"I was in the army…private first class." — Frank Kameny

"I'm proud of my military service, but I've resented for 68 years that I had to lie to the government in order to serve in a war effort that I very, very strongly supported." — Frank Kameny

"Let me start by saying that homophobia goes way back. I first ran into it personally in 1943 when... three days before my 18th birthday, I enlisted in the army. They asked. I lied." — Frank Kameny

"When I was an astronomer with an army map service, a first-year probationary employee with a superior employment performance rating, I was fired specifically on grounds of being gay. I was fired under this employment ban, but unlike large numbers of others during the anti-gay, homophobic reign of terror in the '50s, I was the first person to fight back." — Frank Kameny

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Frank Kameny's quote: "I was in the army…private first class." | Image: AmoDays

Frank Kameny's quote: "I was in the army…private first class." | Image: AmoDays

Frank Kameny's Quotes on Fighting for Equality

"But meanwhile, by that time, I had decided that basically what this amounted to was a declaration of war against me by my government. A, I don't grant my government the right to declare war against me. And, B, I tend not to lose my wars." — Frank Kameny

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"We had to work very hard to change public attitude. There was general, cultural negativism and, in every sense, and something needed to be said, in reverse." — Frank Kameny

"We started—to digress before I get back—we started picketing here in '65, which first created the mindset which allowed for gays doing openly public things by way of demonstration as gays." — Frank Kameny

"One of the first things we (The Mattachine of Washington) had to address was the psychiatrists. At that point, they deemed us emotionally disturbed...we were unreliable and untrustworthy." — Frank Kameny

"I became the authority in the country on security clearances for gay people and worked on that all the way through until Clinton's executive order." — Frank Kameny

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Frank Kameny's quote: "I got going on the whole gay movement thing, which was starting in a formal sense in 1961 when I founded 'The Mattachine  of Washington'” | Image: AmoDays

Frank Kameny's quote: "I got going on the whole gay movement thing, which was starting in a formal sense in 1961 when I founded 'The Mattachine of Washington'” | Image: AmoDays

"There would not have been Stonewall if the mindset hadn't already been established by us [The Mattachine Society of Washington] in '65, with our subsequent demonstrations year by year." — Frank Kameny

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"As I have been saying for nearly a year, the law needs to be changed to allow the gay businesses to move to another part of the city." — Frank Kameny

"Ensue of 1968, I saw a news item of Stokely Carmichael leading a group of black students chanting, 'Black Is Beautiful' and realized there was a psychodynamic there...universally and whatever the context is, racially or non-racially, black is always negative, white is always positive, and you had to therefore counter that psychodynamically by saying 'Black Is Beautiful,' and we needed something similar...I came up with the slogan 'Gay Is Good.'" — Frank Kameny

"When it was even seriously entertained that this would be a zoning issue, I blew up. Absolutely not." — Frank Kameny

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"I got going on the whole gay movement thing, which was starting in a formal sense in 1961 when I founded 'The Mattachine of Washington'." — Frank Kameny

Frank Kameny's quote: "There would not have been Stonewall if the mindset hadn't already been established by us [The Mattachine Society of Washington] in '65, with our subsequent demonstrations year by year.'” | Image: AmoDays

Frank Kameny's quote: "There would not have been Stonewall if the mindset hadn't already been established by us [The Mattachine Society of Washington] in '65, with our subsequent demonstrations year by year.'” | Image: AmoDays

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In 2009, decades after his unfair dismissal, the government officially apologized to Kameny. Two years later, on October 11, 2011, at 86 years old, he passed away in his home in Northwest Washington.

Four years after his passing, in 2015, same-sex marriage was legalized across all states in America, a moment he laid the foundation for and yet just missed the ability to witness with his own eyes.

Of course, Kameny is only one of the many prolific historical figures that have empowered or liberated individuals or groups. Read these quotes by Madam C.J. Walker, the first Black woman millionaire in the United States who chose to empower her community through her entrepreneurship.

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