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Donations sought for Kameny funeral

Friends, activists developing plans for public ceremony



Frank Kameny

Friends of Frank Kameny, who died last week, expect a funeral to be held within the next two weeks. (Photo by Joe Tresh)

Friends who worked closely with veteran gay activist Frank Kameny are asking the community to contribute to a local LGBT-oriented charitable group to help it meet the cost of Kameny’s funeral, which they say is expected to be held within the next two weeks.

The group, Helping Our Brothers and Sisters (HOBS), has assisted Kameny for the past year or two, helping him meet basic household needs such as the delivery of groceries, assistance in paying utility and property tax bills, and providing transportation to and from community events, according to HOBS co-founder and President Marvin Carter.

Kameny, one of the nation’s most prominent gay rights advocates, died in his home in Washington on Oct. 11 at the age of 86.

Messages of condolence over his passing continue to pour in from across the country. Nearly all major news media outlets have published obituaries recognizing Kameny as a leading figure in the LGBT rights movement over the past 50 years.

Longtime Kameny friend and gay rights advocate Bob Witeck, CEO of Witeck-Combs Communications, said friends and activists who have known Kameny for many years are developing plans for a Kameny funeral that they hope will be held in a public building in Washington.

He said Kameny’s friends and associates working on funeral plans are asking members of the LGBT community and supporters from the community at-large to make a tax deductable contribution to HOBS, which has established a Kameny funeral fund.

Contributions can be made at or sent by mail to HOBS, P.O. Box 53477, Washington, D.C. 20009.

“HOBS is an all-volunteer micro-charity that helps marginalized GLBT individuals in the Washington, D.C. area meet short-term needs,” the group states on its website. “HOBS’s focus is on those who do not fit the criteria for help from other organizations and agencies.”

Witeck said Kameny’s friends and associates also are planning a separate memorial service in a larger space with a target date of Nov. 15, which will mark the 50th anniversary of the Mattachine Society of Washington, the city’s first gay rights group that Kameny co-founded.

Funeral arrangements could not be made immediately, Witeck said, because Kameny’s Washington friends had to reach out to his surviving sister, 83-year-old Edna Lavey, who lives in Riverhead, N.Y. Under D.C. law, Lavey, as the next of kin, has sole legal authority to decide on what to do with Kameny’s remains.

“She’s been very gracious and very supportive of our efforts to plan the funeral,” said Witeck.

He said that under advice from lawyers, Lavey has agreed to sign a legal document giving Witeck and other friends in Washington authority to move ahead with funeral plans, including the release of Kameny’s body from the D.C. Medical Examiner’s office to a D.C. funeral home.

According to Witeck, friends will fulfill Kameny’s long-stated wish to be cremated and to have a non-religious funeral or memorial service.

One option under consideration is an offer to accept a donated cemetery plot to have Kameny’s ashes interred at D.C.’s historic Congressional Cemetery near the gravesite of the late gay Air Force veteran Leonard Matlovich. Matlovich, a decorated combat veteran in the Vietnam War, approached Kameny for assistance in his decision to become the first active duty member of the military to publicly declare that he was gay in 1975 in an effort to challenge the ban on gay service members.

The widespread media coverage of Matlovich’s declaration, which included the now famous cover story in Time magazine with the headline “I am a homosexual,” has been credited with kicking off the campaign that led to the repeal this year of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

The Blade will report all details surrounding Kameny’s funeral and memorial service as soon as they become available.

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  1. Kevin O'Lery

    October 19, 2011 at 5:27 pm

    Thank you for letting people know about this. I donated this instant.

  2. Jeri Hughes

    October 20, 2011 at 10:56 am

    All right, folks. You wouldn’t have your jobs, your life, your status as first class citizens here in the District were it not for the unbelievable courage and determination of Frank Kameny. Dig into those pockets, and support the effort to honor Dr. Kameny. Thanx!

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Comings & Goings

Umana named associate with Gustafson Guthrie Nichol



Wolfgang Umana (Photo courtesy of Umana)

The Comings & Goings column is about sharing the professional successes of our community. We want to recognize those landing new jobs, new clients for their business, joining boards of organizations and other achievements. Please share your successes with us at: [email protected]

Congratulations to Wolfgang Umana on being named an associate with Gustafson Guthrie Nichol (GGN). He has been with them for more than five years and is currently its D.C. studio’s office manager. 

“I am honored to become GGN’s newest Associate,” Umana said.I have the glorious privilege of supporting GGN’s continuing dedication to progress, inclusion, social justice, sustainability, and beautification of the world we live in.”

Umana also works with NBR Computer Consulting as an LLC Computer Technician consultant. He has experience in social media, communications, outreach, and technical services, and provides a dynamic approach to the fast-changing world of technology. NBR Computer Consulting, LLC is a gay-owned business. 

Umana has also served as D.C. Army National Guard Director of Environmental Affairs and with EMS Consultation Services. 

He has his bachelor’s in Environmental Science & Public Policy, Human and Ecosystem Response to Climate Change, from George Mason University. 

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Capital Pride bids for D.C. to host World Pride 2025

International event draws thousands of visitors



Confetti rained down in New York’s Times Square at Stonewall 50 WorldPride New York’s closing ceremony two years ago. D.C. organizers hope to host the event in 2025. (Blade photo by Lou Chibbaro, Jr.)

The Capital Pride Alliance, the group that organizes D.C.’s annual LGBTQ Pride events, announced on Sept. 21 that it has submitted a bid to host 2025 World Pride, the international Pride event that draws thousands of participants from throughout the world to the host city.

The announcement by Capital Pride says its bid to host the event in D.C. notes that the event, among other things, would commemorate the 50th anniversary of D.C.’s first LGBTQ Pride event in 1975, which began as a block party near Dupont Circle.

World Pride is licensed and administered by the international LGBTQ organization InterPride. The World Pride events themselves, which usually take place every other year, are organized by InterPride’s member organizations such as Capital Pride Alliance.

The Capital Pride announcement notes that World Pride “promotes visibility and awareness of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ+) issues on a global level.” The announcement adds, “World Pride events include parades, marches, festivals and other cultural activities often enjoyed at Pride celebrations, along with other components such as a human rights conference and large-scale opening and closing ceremonies.”

The InterPride website says the deadline for submitting a bid for the 2025 World Pride has passed. It says D.C.’s Capital Pride and Kaohsiung Pride, located in the large Taiwan port city of Kaohsiung, are the only two remaining cities in competition for hosting the 2025 World Pride.

Ryan Bos, Capital Pride’s executive director, said InterPride was expected to make its decision on which of the two cities to select sometime in November of this year.

“A recent study conducted by Booz Allen Hamilton revealed that the annual Capital Pride Celebrations, during normal years, result in approximately $371 million in positive economic impacts to the region, a number that may be doubled if the organization is awarded the prestigious event,” the Capital Pride statement says.

The 2021 World Pride took place earlier this year in Copenhagen, Denmark. The 2019 World Pride was held in New York City to commemorate the 50th anniversary of New York’s Stonewall riots, which many activists consider the start of the modern LGBTQ rights movement.

InterPride says the 2023 World Pride will take place in Sydney, Australia.

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Va. county supervisors back resolution against ‘required’ pronoun questions

Unanimous vote in Stafford County allows school defunding



What's Your Pronoun? review, gay news, Washington Blade
(Image courtesy of Liveright Publishing)

The Stafford County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution that gives it the authority to deny funds to schools that require students to give their pronouns and teach the 1619 Project and critical race theory.

The resolution denounces “the teaching of the 1619 Project and critical race theory (CRT) and related principles in Stafford County Public Schools,” and states the board does not support Stafford County Public School students “being required to identify their chosen pronouns.”

The approved document had been updated to change “requested” to give pronouns to “required.”

Republican Supervisor Gary Snellings told the board he brought the resolution forward, which passed by a 6-0 vote margin, in response to communication from parents. One supervisor was not present.

Snellings called critical race theory “racism.” He also called the New York Times’ 1619 Project published on the 400th anniversary of the arrival of enslaved Africans to the Virginia colony a “theory.”

Critical race theory is not taught in Virginia public schools, but a state law passed in 2020 requires local school boards to adopt policies that are more inclusive for transgender and non-binary students that follow, or exceed, guidelines from the state’s Department of Education.

Snellings said the problem with preferred pronouns was in requiring students to give them. He said that was not in the governing Virginia law.

“This (resolution) does not eliminate anything. It just follows state law,” Snellings said.

A Virginia court in July dismissed a lawsuit that challenged the Department of Education’s guidelines for trans and non-binary students. Equality Virginia and the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia were parties to the amicus brief in support of the protections.

“We are deeply disappointed that these adults made such a hateful decision for kids in the community,” tweeted the ACLU of Virginia in response to the board’s vote.

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