The following was submitted as a letter to the editor.
In the April 9 edition of The Washington Post, Tim Craig reported that, “D.C. Council member Anita Bonds said Monday that ‘the council should be representative of the people who live in the District of Columbia’ and predicted that African American voters will elect one of their ‘own’ in the April 23 special election.”
Craig also reported that, “the white candidates in the race — Republican Patrick Mara and Democrats Matthew Frumin, Elissa Silverman and Paul Zukerberg — largely avoided the topic of race.”
In my memory, only once before has a prominent candidate raised the issue of race so explicitly in a District election — and that election was the very first. On March 23, 1971, Franklin Kameny was the first openly gay candidate for a federal office when he ran for non-voting delegate to Congress, the seat now held by Eleanor Holmes Norton. I was Kameny’s campaign manager. One of the other candidates in that race was the Rev. Douglas E. Moore who ran as the “black power candidate.” As some may remember, Moore was also homophobic.
Kameny did not present himself as a gay candidate, but rather as the “personal freedom candidate.” On Election Day, Frank got 1,888 votes and placed fourth among six candidates. In contrast, Moore ran behind Kameny getting only 1,222 votes. Time magazine in its story about the election said that “gay power beat black power.”
In certain precincts such as precinct 189 on Capitol Hill, Frank had 11 percent of the vote. That election was the beginning of gay political influence in Washington. But the most important result was that the public and the media began to speak of homosexuals as “the gay community.” — Paul Kuntzler, Washington