November 2, 2011 at 8:26 am EDT | by Kevin Naff
DiCaprio, Black should pay for Kameny memorial

Following the death of pioneering LGBT activist Frank Kameny, a small group of dedicated friends has worked quietly to sort out the details of his estate, memorial services, cremation and burial. We owe them a debt of gratitude for their heroic work ensuring that Kameny — who gave so much to so many of us — lived and died with dignity.

But those end-of-life details can be costly: headstones, cremation services and other necessary expenses. To offset those costs, some community activists have urged donations to the local group Helping Our Brothers and Sisters. Here’s another idea: let actor Leonardo DiCaprio and Oscar-winning gay screenwriter Dustin Lance Black make a contribution.

DiCaprio and Black visited Kameny in his D.C. home back in January while researching the new film “J.Edgar,” a biopic about FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, who often targeted closeted government workers, creating a chilling atmosphere for gays in the 1950s and 60s.

The film opens this weekend, just as Kameny will be lying in state and local officials bidding farewell to the civil rights icon.

DiCaprio is reportedly worth more than $200 million, according to various lists of Hollywood’s richest actors. Surely he can afford to compensate the estate for the time and insights that Kameny provided to the making of the film. And Black is a regular visitor to D.C. and surely familiar with Kameny’s contributions to creating a world in which an openly gay man could win an Oscar and deliver an acceptance speech before an audience of adoring millions.

DiCaprio and Black should contact HOBS and step in to ensure Kameny’s end-of-life expenses are covered. It’s the right thing to do.



Kevin Naff is the editor and a co-owner of the Washington Blade, the nation’s oldest and most acclaimed LGBT news publication, founded in 1969.

  • Thanks, Kevin. That would be a classy move at a cost they would barely notice.

  • Is there a fund that individuals can contribute to? Can we start one?

  • Good points. Others do what they can. In my own case, I’ve offered to donate a plot worth several thousand dollars right next to his protege in the fight against the military ban, Leonard Matlovich, in Congressional Cemetery where our Community and the public generally could come to honor him in perpetuity as Leonard spoke of the need for such a place for all our heroes at the 1987 dedication of the project for a memorial for Harvey Milk there which Frank attended, carrying a flag at the front of the procession into the cemetery as seen at:

    Added bonus: it would place him in the same row as J. Edgar and just three plots from Clyde Tolson.

  • The website mentioned in the article for donations

  • According to William Harrison, who commented to another Blade article on October 14, 2011 at 12:31 am, “…Dr. Kameny was a giant for gay rights in this country and will be remembered. But he also attempted to embezzle $10000 from a very wealthy friend of mine in the 1980s for his “gay archive”. He had a substanial trust fund from his mother’s estate that he accidently failed to mention. It was a huge scandal at the time, rightfully so…” If that is, in fact, true, then why does Kameny deserve any financial assistance for his burial, for a memorial, etc? Had he exercised better judgment of his finances and personal decisions he could have paid for everything himself!!

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