May 17, 2010 at 10:53 am EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Community celebrates Kameny’s 85th birthday

At least three events were set to take place this week to celebrate the 85th birthday of D.C. gay activist Frank Kameny, who is credited with founding the LGBT rights movement in the District of Columbia and playing a key role in starting the modern gay rights movement nationwide.

The Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, the city’s largest LGBT political group that Kameny helped found in 1976, is hosting a reception in Kameny’s honor Friday, May 21, at the LGBT Community Center at 1810 14th St., N.W., from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

The event was to include a special presentation on Kameny’s role in the D.C. LGBT community by fellow activist Paul Kunzler, also one of the founders of the Stein Club.

The National Stonewall Democrats was to hold another birthday celebration for Kameny on Thursday at the AFL-CIO building on 16th Street, N.W., near the White House.

And a group of Kameny friends and fellow activists was scheduled to hold a separate event honoring his life’s work on behalf of gay rights on Wednesday night at the Artist Inn Bed & Breakfast at 1824 R St., N.W., near Dupont Circle.

The event, which was sponsored by the local gay-oriented foundation, Helping Our Brothers & Sisters, was asking for donations by attendees to go toward a special Kameny fund that will “help support Frank Kameny in his later years of life,” according to a Facebook announcement of the event.

David Bradberry, lead organizer of the event, said local artist Don Patron, who was also helping to organize the event, has made about a dozen oil paintings of Kameny. Bradberry said some were made from photos of Kameny taken in years past, including during his service in the Army during World War II. The paintings were to be sold in a silent auction at the event to help raise money for the Kameny fund.

“Kameny is the father of the modern gay movement, and his achievements are legend,” the announcement says.

“He was one of the leaders of the first gay rights demonstrations at the White House, State Department, and Philadelphia’s Independence Hall — four years before Stonewall,” it says. “He founded or co-founded the D.C. chapters of the Mattachine Society and Gay Activists Alliance and the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force.”

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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