“Gay Is Good: The Life and Letters of Gay Rights Pioneer Franklin Kameny” edited by Michael G. Long— One of the Most Significant Figures in Gay Rights

gay is good

Michael G. Long (author and editor). “Gay Is Good: The Life and Letters of Gay Rights Pioneer Franklin Kameny”, Syracuse University Press, 2014.

One of the Most Significant Figures in Gay Rights

Amos Lassen

Those of us who have worked within the Gay Rights Movement are well aware of Frank Kameny (1925-2011) and that he was one of the most significant figures in the it. Already in 1958, he encouraged gay people to embrace their homosexuality as moral and healthy. “He publicly denounced the federal government for excluding homosexuals from federal employment and he openly fought the military’s ban against gay men and women, debated psychiatrists who depicted homosexuality as a mental disorder, identified test cases to advance civil liberties through the federal courts, acted as counsel to countless homosexuals suffering state-sanctioned discrimination, and organized marches for gay rights at the White House and other public institutions”. He was THE MAN.

In his book “ Gay Is Good”, Michael Long shares Kameny’s historically rich letters, and they reveal some of the early stirrings of today’s politically powerful LGBT movement. If you had ever met or heard Frank, you can expect these letters to be full of life and wit. He was loud but he was fair; he said what he felt and to whom he felt like saying it to whether it be the White House, the Pentagon or British Parliament. He spoke to federal agency heads, military generals, and media personalities and he wrote them countless letters. This book is a collection of approximately 150 letters that date from 1958 to 1975—this was a critical period in Kameny’s life. During it, he moved from being a victim to a vocal opponent of the law and actually he became the voice of the law.

Long arranges the letters in context and gives the historical and biographical information about to whom the letters were written and why. This book is a tribute to the man who advocated for our rights at a time when others would not speak up. Kameny was tireless and he is responsible for advocating the shift in social attitudes and practices and he opened the doors to our closets that will never be shut again.

 “Frank Kameny is an ideal subject for a published letters volume not just because of his important achievements as a Washington D.C. gay activist, but also because of his skill as a writer, in particular his ability to use language that conveyed rational analysis, rhetorical hyperbole, urgency, sarcasm, wit, and prescience all at the same time. The letters are a joy to read”. –Craig Loftin, California State University, Fullerton

 “The LGBT movement has been blessed with an amazing array of passionate, provocative, colorful, dedicated, and sometimes infuriating women and men. Frank Kameny is certainly one of the most important. Michael Long’s magnificent book captures the breadth of the movement and the specificity of Kameny s life and importance”. –Michael Bronski, Harvard University

 “Michael Long has provided a window into a time that’s already largely forgotten as seen through the eyes of perhaps the most transformative, persistent, and original thinker, mover, and finger-shaker in the history of the gay civil rights movement”. –Eric Marcus, Author of Making Gay History: The Half-Century Fight for Lesbian and Gay Equal Rights

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