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Kameny honored in memorial service on Capitol Hill

Members of Congress join LGBT community in remembering pioneer activist



John Berry

Director of the Office of Personnel Management, John Berry, addresses the attendees at the memorial service for Frank Kameny. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

In a memorial service on Capitol Hill Tuesday night, three members of Congress, an Obama administration official, and a Yale Law School professor described the late gay rights leader Frank Kameny as a major figure in the U.S. civil rights movement who changed the course of history for LGBT Americans and the nation.

More than 200 people turned out for the service, which was held in the historic caucus room at the Cannon House Office Building across the street from the U.S. Capitol.

“His life cleared the path that I and countless others followed into public service,” said John Berry, the director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, who in 2009 became the Obama administration’s highest-level gay appointment.

“His unrelenting and unceasing fight for gay rights enabled other Americans to step out of the closet and into the full light of equality,” Berry told the gathering. “But most importantly, his long battle and eventual triumphs show the miracles that one person wrought upon the world.”

Berry’s sentiment was echoed by gay U.S. Reps. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Congressional Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), and Yale Law School Professor William Eskridge Jr. Each told of how Kameny’s 50-year tenure as the nation’s preeminent gay rights strategist and advocate changed the course of the nation’s history and improved the lives of LGBT people and other Americans.

Rep. Barney Frank

Rep. Barney Frank also made remarks at the service. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Gay rights advocate and Kameny friend Charles Francis said he and others who organized the memorial service chose to hold it on Nov. 15 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Kameny’s co-founding of the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C. Gay historians consider Mattachine of Washington to be D.C’s and the nation’s first homosexual civil rights organization.

Francis noted that Kameny and fellow activist Jack Nichols started the organization in 1961 not long after the Cannon Caucus Room, where Kameny’s memorial service was being held, was the site of the House Un-American Activities Committee’s widely publicized hearings in which communists and homosexuals were said to be a threat to the nation.

Eskridge praised Kameny’s role as a legal strategist and noted that Kameny waged one of the first effective efforts to repeal state sodomy laws, which classified gay sex as a crime. Eskridge and Norton, who called Kameny a civil rights champion, each compared the gay rights leader to American civil rights heroes in the black civil rights movement such as Rosa Parks and Thurgood Marshall.

Norton said that Kameny’s decision to become the first known gay person to fight his dismissal on grounds of homosexuality from his federal government job as an astronomer in 1957 was similar to Rosa Parks’ refusal to sit in the back of the bus as an act of defiance of the South’s segregation laws.

“He wore that dismissal as a badge of honor,” Norton said. “It is Frank’s lonely act of defiance that sets him apart” at a time when it was unthinkable for gays to stand up for their rights, she said.

Eskridge said Kameny’s work to advance legal rights for LGBT people in the early years of his activism in the 1960s was especially remarkable because he wasn’t a lawyer.

He said that in 1961 Kameny became the first in the U.S. civil rights movement to argue that sexual orientation should be treated the same as race in connection with laws and policies that ban discrimination.

“Those were remarkably good arguments,” said Eskridge. “Today they can get you tenure at a university. But back then they could land you in jail.”

Rep. Frank said Frank Kameny was an inspiration and role model for him at a time when he grappled with how his own status as a gay man would impact his plans to enter the realm of politics and run for public office in Massachusetts.

Frank said one of Kameny’s many accomplishments in the gay rights movement was his self-confidence and aggressive and assertive demeanor in informing the world that his cause was just and right.

“He was certainly the opposite of the stereotype of a gay person as a shrinking violet,” Frank said.

Baldwin said she, too, considered Kameny a role model in her own coming out as a lesbian interested in becoming involved in public affairs and politics.

“My own introduction to Frank came when I was in college,” she said. “I was just coming out. I sought everything I could find to read about our LGBT leaders… And what I learned about Frank Kameny, the Mattachine Society and so many other pioneers made me incredibly proud,” she said.

Attendees of Frank Kameny's memorial

Attendees of Frank Kameny's memorial. (Blade photo by Michael Key)

Berry, who delivered the main eulogy for Kameny at the memorial service, said he had the honor as head of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management to extend to Kameny a formal apology on behalf of the government for Kameny’s dismissal from government service in 1957.

“The apology closed an important cycle in his life’s work,” said Berry, who noted that it came more than 50 years after Kameny has been credited with initiating and living to see a long list of changes that have improved the lives of LGBT people.

An end to a government ban on granting security clearances to gays, the end of the ban on gays from serving in the military, the elimination of anti-gay sodomy laws, and the removal of the psychiatric profession’s classification of homosexuality as a mental disorder are all actions that Kameny played a key role in bringing about, Berry said.

“We have lost one of the great champions of truth. His life was long and full, his victories many and great. He has left his mark upon the world, and its stewardship falls to us now,” Berry told the gathering.

“The end of Frank’s avenue must not be the end of ours. We must continue on the journey forward. It is up to us to carry on the battles yet un-won, to write history and guard the future and to morn this great soul.”

Among those attending the Kameny memorial service were gay U.S. Reps. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and David Cicilline (D-R.I.), who, along with Norton, Frank, and Baldwin, served as official congressional hosts for the event. Also attending were Gautam Raghavan, associate director of public engagement at the White House, who serves as White House liaison to the LGBT community; White House press spokesperson Shin Inouye; and D.C. Council members David Catania, Jim Graham, and Mary Cheh.



Moore signs executive order to protect gender-affirming health care in Md.

Ceremony took place during Pride month reception at Government House



Maryland Gov. Wes Moore on June 5, 2023, signs an executive order that protects gender-affirming health care in the state. (Photo from Moore's office)

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore on Monday signed an executive order that protects gender-affirming health care in the state.

Moore signed the directive during a Pride month reception at Government House in Annapolis.

“In the state of Maryland, nobody should have to justify their own humanity,” said Moore. “This order is focused on ensuring Maryland is a safe place for gender affirming care, especially as other states take misguided and hateful steps to make gender affirming care cause for legal retribution. In Maryland, we are going to lead on this issue.”

“In signing this executive order, this administration is saying to all LGBTQIA+ Marylanders: You deserve to be your authentic selves — during Pride month and every month,” added Lieutenant Gov. Aruna Miller. “You deserve to live safely, openly and freely; and receive the gender-affirming care you need.”

Moore last month signed the Trans Health Equity Act, which requires Maryland’s Medicaid program to cover gender-affirming care. Moore on March 31 signed a proclamation that proclaimed the day as the International Transgender Day of Visibility in Maryland. 

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22 ways to celebrate Pride month in Delaware

From Wilmington to Rehoboth, there’s something for everyone



Delaware hosts an array of Pride-related events this month.


QUEER FILM: The Rehoboth Beach Film Society and CAMP Rehoboth kick off the three-day Pride Film Festival featuring 12 movies, ranging from “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” to “Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project,” which explores author Giovanni’s life and six decades of work. The schedule has not been announced yet as of publication of this guide. The films will be shown at Cinema Art Theatre at 17701 Dartmouth Rd. #2 in Lewes. $12 per film.

A HISTORY LESSON: Delaware LGBTQ history researcher Carolanne Deal explores the queer history of Sussex County and a new exhibition with parts of Delaware’s queer history in the Zwannendael Park by the museum with the same name. 5 p.m. at 102 Kings Highway in Lewes. Free.


PRIDE FESTIVAL: Delaware Pride is putting on its annual Pride festival, with more than 100 vendors and many entertainers making up the single largest LGBTA gathering in Delaware, the organization says. Seventeen entertainers are listed on Delaware Pride’s Facebook page, including “American Idol” contestant Alisabeth Von Presley – “Lady Gaga meets Pat Benatar with a dash of Michael Jackson,” Little Village Magazine writes; Aunt Mary Pat, the drag queen and singer; Jenna Tall, who’s won five Miss titles; The Manhattan Prairie Dogs, a dance group that’s legal to watch despite prairie dogs being illegal to keep as a pet in New York; and Ryan Cassata, a singer and public speaker on trans issues. That’s not even mentioning 83 vendors that are scheduled to attend. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. at 411 Legislative Ave. in Dover. Free.

PRIDE AFTER-PARTY: Double D’s Taphouse is hosting an after-party throughout Saturday night for adults 21 and over, hosted by Scarlett Masters (who’s also hosting the drag bingo above). 6-10 p.m. at 137 Jerome Drive in Dover. $15.

COUNTRY DANCING: Get yir boots on and saddle up, gays! Atlantic Sands Hotel & Conference Center is hosting a country dance party for gay men and women in Rehoboth. 7 p.m. at 1 Baltimore Ave. on the Boardwalk in Rehoboth. $10.

BRING YOUR GAY ASS OVER HERE: Flash your colors at Wilmington’s Crimson Moon bar. Brush up on your gay history to understand why: When it was illegal to be gay, LGBTQ people put a colored handkerchief in their back pocket to signal their queerness to other community members. Community leaders periodically changed that color so they would not reveal their sexuality to undercover cops. Over time, it evolved into what it is today – a way to show who you are and what you’re looking for. 9 p.m. at 1909 W. 6th St. in Wilmington. No cover.


RUN FOR FUN AT THE FUN RUN: Fun for run, no, run for fun in Rehoboth, organized by a Delaware shoe store, Charm City Run. 8-9 a.m. at 200 Rehoboth Ave. in Rehoboth. Free.

MIDDLETOWN PRIDE: Middletown is hosting its second annual Pride Walk and Festival – with vendors this time. 12-5 p.m. in Middletown. Free.

BINGO FOR A CAUSE: AIDS Delaware is hosting a spring bingo with The Rainbow Chorale in the Mill Creek Fire Company’s Chambers, with all proceeds benefitting the two organizations. It’s hosted by drag queens Scarlet Masters and Aura Buboyz and organizers encourage guests to dress in Pride attire or your “best ally” attire. Doors open at 5 p.m., games begin at 6 p.m. at 3900 Kirkwood Hwy in Wilmington. $15 for admission and one game board.

SUPPORT AGING LGBTQ+ PEOPLE: Learn about the challenges facing older LGBTQ adults and resources for them in a roundtable discussion hosted by Sussex Pride at the Unitarian Universalists of Southern Delaware’s building in Lewes. 6-7:45 p.m. at 30486 Lewes Georgetown Hwy. Free.  


A NIGHT OUT: Bring your friends and (queer) family to this LGBTQ social event at Constitution Yards Beer Garden. It had a record turnout of about 300 last year, and organizers are hoping to crack 400 this year. 6-9 p.m. at 308 Justison St. in Wilmington. Free. 

GAME NIGHT: If going out isn’t your thing and you’d prefer a more chill night, fear not: Sussex Pride is hosting a game night in the Epworth United Methodist Church. 6:30-8:15 p.m. at 19285 Holland Glade Rd. in Rehoboth. Free.


GET INTO THE HOMO SPIRIT: Listen to CAMP Rehoboth’s Chorus singing all-time favorites like Chad & Jeremy’s “A Summer Song,” Chicago’s “Saturday in the Park,” and, of course, a Beach Boys medley at Epworth United Methodist Church. Friday and Saturday 7 p.m., and Monday 3 p.m. at 19285 Holland Glade Road in Rehoboth. $25. 

GAYEST SONGS EVER: Celebrate the super gay pop hits of yesteryear (and this year) with performer Todd Alsup. 8:30-10:30 p.m. at The Pines, 56 Baltimore Ave. in Rehoboth. $25-150.


DRAG BRUNCH: Miss Troy, who is also performing at the Pride Festival, is hosting a drag brunch at The Queen in its Crown Room. The Queen is normally a live music venue but has a history of hosting all kinds of events. 12 p.m. at 500 N. Market St. in Wilmington. $39-61.50

POOL PARTY: If you want to take a splash in the pool while being a little tipsy this is the place to do it. Bring your own booze if desired, and bring food if you wish. 3-9 p.m. at 128 Honey Brook Lane in Felton. Free.

PLAY DUNGEONS & DRAGONS: Take a break from celebrating with a round of Dungeons & Dragons hosted by Sussex Pride at the Groome Church. 6:30-8 p.m. at 601 Savannah Rd. in Lewes. Free.


QUEER STORY TIME: Bring your little (or not so little) kids to the Woodlawn Library and read picture books with LGBTQ characters. You must register for the event beforehand here. Masks are strongly encouraged at the event. 11 a.m.-12 p.m. at 2020 W. 9th St. in Wilmington. Free.

BRING YOUR DADDY TO BRUNCH: Goolee’s Grill encourages you to bring your dad (or daddy) to this family-friendly drag brunch because it’s Father’s Day. The event is hosted by the runner up for Rehoboth’s Best Drag Queen in the 2019 Blade awards, Regina Cox. 12-2 p.m. at 11 South 1st St. $15.


ZOO VISIT: The Brandywine Zoo is holding its annual Pride Day – only the third – with educational programming, a scavenger hunt, and story time. 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. at 1001 N. Park Dr. in Wilmington. $7 for seniors and youth, $9 for adults.


STONEWALL RELIVED: Listen to four actors recreate the 1969 Stonewall Uprising at CAMP Rehoboth with the words of those that were there – reporters, drag queens, trans youth, gay people, and homeless kids that confronted the police, letting out their anger. It wasn’t the first LGBTQ uprising of the era, but the most consequential. 4 p.m. & 7 p.m. at 37 Baltimore Ave. in Rehoboth. $25. 


GAY COMEDY: Standup comedian Jen Kober, an out lesbian from Louisiana, is touring the country and stopping in Rehoboth Beach at The Pines along with Jeff D. She won NPR’s Snap Judgment of Comedic Performance of the Year and went viral for her standup about Girl Scout cookies. 7 p.m. at The Pines in Rehoboth. 

Did we miss anything? Let the author know at [email protected] 

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People of Pride: A look at Maryland’s LGBTQ community

Prominent activists, leaders spoke with the Baltimore Banner



Marquis Clayton, 35, poses for a portrait around Mount Vernon in Baltimore on May 31, 2023. (Photo by Kaitlin Newman for the Baltimore Banner)

By John-John Williams IV | With the LGBTQ community under assault in many states, LGBTQ Marylanders say Pride month has taken on added meaning this year.

There are an estimated 11 million LGBTQ adults in the United States, with 151,000 in the state of Maryland, according to the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law and Public Policy at UCLA School of Law. The community covers a diverse spectrum of genders, identities, races and cultures.

The Baltimore Banner spoke and emailed with members of the community about the meaning of pride and the greatest challenges facing the LGBTQ community. Here are their answers, some of which have been edited for length and clarity.

The rest of this article can be found on the Baltimore Banner website.

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