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Frank Kameny’s sole heir speaks out

Housemate, friend of 19 years was ‘family member’ unknown to gay leader’s associates

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Timothy Clark, gay news, gay politics dc

Timothy Clark, 35, was named the sole beneficiary of Frank Kameny’s estate except for his papers, which Kameny bequeathed to the Library of Congress. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Editor’s note: This is the first installment of a two-part report. Next week: More on Timothy Clark and his long association with Frank Kameny.

While nationally acclaimed gay rights pioneer Franklin E. Kameny collaborated in his later years with fellow activists and national politicians and attended events at the White House, Timothy Lamont Clark says he prepared Kameny’s breakfast and dinner in the privacy of Kameny’s home.

Virtually unknown to Kameny’s circle of friends and political associates in the LGBT rights movement, Kameny named Clark, 35, in his will as the sole beneficiary of his estate except for his papers, which he bequeathed to the Library of Congress.

He also named Clark in the will, filed in 2007, as the personal representative of his estate, a position similar to an executor that has full authority to decide how the estate’s assets and possessions should be managed.

Kameny died in October 2011, leaving behind what LGBT activists and civil rights leaders who knew him called a 50-year legacy as one of the nation’s preeminent architects and advocates for LGBT equality.

Clark says he began a 19-year friendship with Kameny when he was 15 years old, after calling the Gay Information hotline that Kameny operated out of his home in 1991.

Clark says he was living with his grandmother in Southeast D.C. at the time and was struggling to come out as gay in a deeply religious extended family. Through an odd turn of events, his grandmother learned that Clark had been speaking to Kameny by phone on a regular basis a few months after Clark first called the hotline, which he had discovered in the Yellow Pages.

“That’s when my grandmother called Frank,” he said in an exclusive interview with the Washington Blade on Tuesday. “At first it was a heated conversation. But then once they got past that, my grandmother said on no uncertain terms you will not be able to see my grandson until his 16th birthday.”

He continued to speak with Kameny by phone in what he describes as a counselor and mentor type relationship. Shortly after his 16th birthday Clark says he met Kameny in person for the first time in a public library while accompanied by his grandmother.

“After that, my grandmother allowed me to talk to Frank,” Clark said. “It was nothing that was hidden anymore… And Frank has been part of my life ever since then.”

Clark added, “And that’s when my grandmother started asking him, do you think that him being this way, is it safe for him to go to Anacostia High School? And Frank said yes. It was like everything had collided in a good way between all parties involved.”

Among the things Clark talked to Kameny about in the ensuing years was his relationship with his boyfriend, who moved in with him at his grandmother’s house around 1997 after the boyfriend encountered problems with his parents, who were members of the Jehovah’s Witness faith.

Although his grandmother was gradually becoming more accepting of him being gay, Clark said she wasn’t quite ready for him to cohabitate with a boyfriend in her house. With his grandmother’s consent, Clark accepted an offer by Kameny to move into Kameny’s basement apartment at Kameny’s house on Cathedral Avenue, N.W.

In addition to being a good friend, Clark knew that, unlike his grandmother, Kameny would have no problem accepting Clark’s boyfriend.

“So I moved over there in his basement until 1999 and then me and my boyfriend moved out to Centerville, Va., Clark said. “So I was there from ’97 to ’99 before I moved out.”

Clark said he moved back into Kameny’s house between 2002 and 2003 after having moved from Centerville to an apartment in D.C. By then his friendship with Kameny deepened and evolved into a family type relationship, with Kameny spending time at his grandmother’s and relatives’ homes on holidays, including Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners, Clark said.

“Frank was a part of my family,” he said. “Frank was like a grandfather to me. My grandfather passed away when I was little, but Frank was literally like a grandfather to me. We had our ups and downs, but that’s what families do.”

Clark said his return to Kameny’s house came at Kameny’s request and caused a strain on his relationship with his boyfriend.

“He just called me and said that he was getting older and he missed me living there and he would like for me to come back,” Clark said. “So that’s when my aunt, who knew Frank, that’s when she got someone to redo the basement because the basement by then was in horrible condition and I couldn’t come back there like that.”

As the basement was being fixed up through contractors hired and paid for by his aunt, Clark said Kameny sat him down to discuss the situation.

“He said Timothy, you know I’ve always been self-sufficient and I never needed anybody around, but when you were here I found comfort and I would like to have you back if you’re willing to come back.”

While mulling over Kameny’s invitation to return, Clark said he and his boyfriend had a separate conversation. “That’s when my partner said, well, it’s me or the old man. I chose Frank because Frank was very important to me,” said Clark. “He helped me get over things in my personal life, you know, a lot of things. He helped me get through the anger I had towards a lot of the women in my family,” whose religious beliefs often were at odds with his sexual orientation, Clark said.

“Frank really helped me get past all of that.” Pausing and appearing to hold back tears, Clark said, “Frank is — oh — he was just awesome.”

Clark lived in the basement apartment until after Kameny’s death.

Collard greens and chitlins

Describing himself as a “very private” person, Clark said he shunned the political and LGBT activist world that Kameny relished, despite Kameny’s frequent requests that he attend various events and celebrations. It was only in the last few years of Kameny’s life that Clark said he began attending the city’s LGBT Pride parade as it passed around Dupont Circle.

Instead, he says he has fond memories of Kameny’s participation in his family events, including holiday dinners.

“When my grandmother’s sister from North Carolina came up he went over there to meet her with me at my cousin’s house,” Clark recalls. “It was just so funny because he knew my grandmother but when he first came to one of the dinners and my grandmother had collard greens and chitlins, I said Frank I want you to finish your plate for everything,” Clark said.

“My grandmother asked him to call her by her first name, Lena,” he said. “And Frank said, Lena, what is this? And she said chitlins [pig intestines prepared in a traditional Southern recipe]. And Frank sat back and said Lena what does an old Jew from New York know about this? We all just laughed, and he ate the chitlins. And ever since then he would always ask if my grandmother was making chitlins for the holidays.”

Clark said his fond memories of Kameny’s role as a welcomed member of his family became marred to some degree following Kameny’s death when rumors began circulating among some of Kameny’s political friends and acquaintances over the nature of his relationship with the famed gay rights leader. Some wondered why he would be named as the main beneficiary in Kameny’s will, giving him Kameny’s house, which the city’s tax office says has an assessed value of $730,880.

Clark said earlier rumors that surfaced in the year prior to Kameny’s death were even more unsettling. Clark said he was stunned last year when two D.C. police officers, a staff member from gay D.C. Council member David Catania (I-At-Large), and a D.C. government official specializing in senior citizen services came to Kameny’s house to talk to him and Kameny separately over concerns by people who knew Kameny that Clark was “abusing” him and may have been arrested in the past for allegedly assaulting Kameny.

Glen Ackerman, who is serving as Clark’s attorney on matters related to Kameny’s estate, said he conducted a search of D.C. court records and confirmed “there is absolutely no truth whatsoever to these ugly rumors.”

The Blade also checked court records and determined Clark had never been charged with an offense in connection with his relationship with Kameny.

Ackerman said that as hurtful as the rumors are to Clark, he believes they were spawned, in part, over the fact that Clark was an unknown figure to virtually all of Kameny’s activist friends and acquaintances. He said he advised Clark to speak to the Blade, among other things, to dispel the mystery surrounding him.

“The only story that’s relevant here is that out of everyone that Dr. Kameny knew in his life, he only trusted one person in terms of his estate and that’s Timothy Clark,” Ackerman said. “With everyone in his life, he trusted this one man to be his personal representative at his death and to leave him basically all of his earthly possessions, including but not limited to his home, his automobile and all of his possessions with the exclusion of his papers that would go to the Library of Congress.”

Ackerman said that officials with the Kameny Papers Project, who had helped arrange for the donation of Kameny’s life’s work writings on behalf of LGBT rights to go to the Library of Congress, initially had not consulted Clark about plans to have Kameny’s ashes buried on March 3 in D.C. Congressional Cemetery.

“He has the sole authority to decide the destiny of all of Dr. Kameny’s possessions, including his ashes,” Ackerman said.

Clark, who initially planned to take possession of Kameny’s ashes, said he has agreed to allow half of the ashes to be buried in the planned March 3 memorial ceremony at Congressional Cemetery while keeping the remaining half “to cherish for the rest of my life.”

Clark said his grief over Kameny’s death brought back memories of the death of his grandmother in 2008, who Kameny knew and loved. When he received a phone call while at home with Kameny that his grandmother had died, Clark said he walked outside on the front lawn to collect his thoughts.

“Frank came downstairs and outside,” he said. “I was standing on the grass. He came out and hugged me and said I’m still here for you, I’m still here. I’ll never forget that day.”

He said he and several of his relatives plan to attend the March 3 burial ceremony for Kameny’s ashes.

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7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. laurelboy2

    February 23, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    Something’s fishy here. But beyond that, if Kameny’s estate is worth what it appears to be, why does the Blade beg readers for contributions to buy Kameny a burial plot and headstone? Seems like Tim could pay for it all as pocket change…

  2. jessica barnes

    February 23, 2012 at 7:10 pm

    First of all stop being in my BROTHER business, nothing FISHY is going on here. For all the people who’s reading the acticle and have something negative to say please contact ME.

  3. Susan

    February 23, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    Kameny has a VA headstone, already installed, and another marker, “Gay Is Good,” already installed, at Congressional Cemetery. His site is very near Matlovitch’s site. It’s a fitting tribute to him.

  4. Fausto Fernandez

    February 24, 2012 at 9:45 am

    Clark, Frank Kameny loved you, so we too love you

  5. ScottM

    February 28, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    I just find it rather odd that if this person lived in the basement of Dr. Kameny’s home for all those years and supposedly felt the way that he did towards Frank, then why did other people have to continuously come to Frank’s aid for making sure the utiltities were kept on; to correct a plumbing situation that was putting Frank in unsanitary situations with the toilets; food for him that probably were shared with others in the house; why was the house in such shambles; why did others have to come to his aid two years ago in the bad snow storm to shovel him out? If this person felt such love for this man then he certainly didn’t seem to prove it by helping him out in anyway that he could. That is certainly not the way that you would treat “family”.

  6. edna lavey

    March 17, 2012 at 11:08 pm

    do you really think you know more about Frank than I do? how ridiculous!! I took care of him when I was 10 yrs. old! He has no family? baloney! He had 16 cousins. I AM HIS SISTER!!! But I am not a liar. Please do not argue with me.

  7. Clay P

    April 16, 2012 at 11:27 am

    I have to agree that it’s very strange that Dr. Kameny had persistent, serious financial difficulties for years while an able-bodied young man was living, apparently rent-free, in the same house. With respect, has Mr. Clark been incapable of working and contributing to the household budget for all these years? I had the honor to meet and interview Dr. Kameny in 2004, and had occasional communication with him for a few years afterward. His shortage of money came up several times in our e-mails.Others can say the same, and have. Where was Mr. Clark, who lived with Kameny from ages 27 to 35, during these same lean years, while others were sending what monetary help they could?

    Incidentally his attorney Mr. Ackerman is also attorney for the Washington Blade, which is not mentioned in this article.

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Gay man attacked, beaten by neighbors in Northeast D.C.

Police list incident as hate crime but courthouse ‘backlog’ could delay arrests

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Antonio Zephir was beaten by neighbors and fears for his life. (Photo courtesy of Zephir)

A woman, her daughter, and a man believed to be the daughter’s father repeatedly punched a gay man in the face while the mother called him a “Jewish faggot” and other anti-gay slurs during an Oct. 13 incident on the grounds of an apartment building where the victim and the two women live, according to the victim and a D.C. police incident report.

The victim, Antonio Zephir, 51, told the Washington Blade the incident began after the mother began shouting anti-gay slurs at him as he walked past her and his roommate outside the Northwood Gardens Apartments at 4870 Fort Totten Dr., N.E. at about 12:40 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 13. 

Zephir identifies the mother as Aurlora Y. Ellis in court papers seeking a restraining order against her that he filed in D.C. Superior Court. He said she had acted in a hostile way toward him before the assault incident.

“For several months, every time Ms. Ellis sees me, she shouts homophobic slurs and I continued to ignore her,” Zephir told the Blade in an email.

He said that minutes before the Oct. 13 attack, Ellis yelled the words “Jewish faggot” when he walked past her as she was talking to his roommate, Steven Johnson. Zephir said it is well known among his neighbors at the apartment complex that he is of the Jewish faith.

“I responded with not-so-kind words. She ran towards me and assaulted me with hard punches toward my face,” Zephir wrote in his email to the Blade. 

“I punched back in an attempt to defend myself,” he wrote. “Mr. Johnson tried to break us up when her daughter Latera Cox and [Cox’s] father assaulted me,” according to Zephir’s account of the incident. “Ms. Ellis yelled, ‘Call the police, you bitch faggot. They’re not going to do anything. This isn’t over yet.”

At that point, Ellis, her daughter Latera Cox, and the man Zephir believes to be Cox’s father fled the scene, Zephir told the Blade.

The D.C. police incident report, which lists the assault as a suspected hate crime, says, “All three suspects then fled east bound” on the 4800 block of Fort Totten Dr., N.E.

Zephir said he immediately called police, who arrived on the scene and took a report on the incident. The report obtained by the Blade lists the incident as a simple assault, which is a misdemeanor under D.C. law.

But Zephir said a detective working on the case told him this week that police were looking into speeding up the process of obtaining warrants for the arrest of the three attackers based, in part, on the injuries Zephir suffered from the attack. He provided the Blade with a medical report issued by the Washington Hospital Center, where his roommate took him to the emergency room the day following the attack, in response to severe pain he was experiencing to his face and head.

The report from the hospital, which treated and released him on Oct. 14, says he was diagnosed as having a fractured nose; a fracture of the “interior orbital wall,” which is the bone surrounding one of his eyes; subconjunctival hemorrhage or bleeding of his left eye; and “laceration of oral cavity” which means an injury inside his mouth caused by trauma from the assault.

Zephir told the Blade that the same detective told him last week that due to a “backlog” in cases at the D.C. Superior Court, it could take between one and two months for police and prosecutors to obtain warrants for the arrests of the two women and the man who assaulted him.

A police spokesperson told the Blade the case remains under active investigation. A spokesperson for the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, which acts as the prosecutor for adult criminal cases in D.C., said he would look into whether the office could publicly comment on the status of efforts to obtain arrest warrants for the three attackers.

Zephir said rumors had surfaced prior to the assault incident that Ellis may have access to a gun. Based on what he feared was a threat by Ellis when she told him during the attack that “this isn’t over yet,” he said he persuaded his roommate to drive him to the courthouse on the same day as the attack to apply for a court restraining order to prevent Ellis from harming him again.

Court records show he also filed a civil complaint against Ellis, Ellis’s daughter, and Ellis’s roommate, Linda Miller, who Zephir says in the complaint acted as an “enabler” for Ellis’ hostility toward him.

The complaint, which is a civil lawsuit that Zephir wrote by hand and filed by himself without hiring a lawyer, calls for $18,000 in damages.  

“I have nightmares,” Zephir told the Blade. “I can’t believe it happened. I keep reliving the experience over and over and over in my head,” he said. “And I feel like I’m a prisoner in my own apartment. I don’t feel safe because I, honest to God, feel like she is going to bodily harm me and I might be, God forbid, murdered.”

Ellis, Cox, and Miller could not immediately be reached for comment.

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Biden endorses Roem for re-election

Former journalist is first out trans person in any state legislature

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Virginia state Del. Danica Roem (D-Manassas) speaks to supporters following her re-election on Nov. 5, 2019. President Biden has endorsed her for re-election. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

President Biden on Tuesday endorsed Virginia state Del. Danica Roem (D-Manassas) for re-election.

Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax County) is among the other Democratic members of the Virginia House of Delegates who Biden backed. Biden in his tweet also stressed his support of Terry McAuliffe, who is running against Republican Glenn Youngkin to succeed Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam.

“Building back better starts in the states,” tweeted Biden. “Since flipping the legislature in 2019, Virginia Democrats have been a model of progress—including helping us vaccinate folks to beat the pandemic. To keep our progress, we must elect Terry McAuliffe and Democrats up and down the ballot.”

Roem, a former journalist, in 2018 became the first openly transgender person seated in any state legislature in the U.S.

Biden called Roem on the night she defeated then-state Del. Bob Marshall and congratulated her. A Washington Post picture that showed Roem crying moments later went viral.

The Manassas Democrat who represents the 13th District in 2019 easily won re-election. Christopher Stone, the Republican who is running against Roem in this cycle, opposes marriage and adoption rights for same-sex couples.

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Conservatives blame pro-trans policy after assaults in Loudoun schools

‘Gender fluid’ 15-year-old accused of attacking female students

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The Loudoun County, Va., public school system’s recently adopted policy of allowing students to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity has come under fire over the past two weeks by outraged parents and conservative political activists following reports that a 15-year-old “gender fluid” boy allegedly sexually assaulted two girls in different high schools.

The parents of one of the girls released a statement through the Virginia-based Stanley Law Group blaming school officials for failing to put in place safeguards to prevent the boy, who they say was dressed in a skirt, from entering the girl’s bathroom to assault their daughter at Stone Bridge High School in Ashburn, Va., on May 28.

The statement accuses Loudoun County Schools officials and the Loudoun County Board of Education of failing to take steps to prevent the same 15-year-old boy from allegedly sexually assaulting another female student at Broad Run High School, also located in Ashburn, on Oct. 6 in a vacant classroom.

School officials acknowledge that the boy was transferred to the second school after law enforcement authorities released him from a juvenile detention facility following his arrest for the first case, in which the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office said he was charged with two counts of forceable sodomy against his female victim. 

“The sexual assault on our daughter and the subsequent sexual assault by the same individual were both predictable and preventable,” the parents’ statement says. “Subsequent to the sexual assault on our daughter, Loudoun County Public Schools formalized the policy regarding restroom use that was easily exploitable by a potential sexual assailant,” the statement continues. 

“Because of poor planning and misguided policies, Loudoun Schools failed to institute even minimal safeguards to protect students from sexual assaults,” says the statement.

Loudoun County Schools Superintendent Scott A. Ziegler apologized at an Oct. 15 news conference for what he acknowledged was the school systems’ mishandling of the two sexual assault cases. He noted that school officials should have publicly disclosed the two cases or at least alerted parents at the time they occurred. But he said a federal civil rights law known as Title IX that mandates how schools must respond to cases of sexual harassment appeared to prevent Loudoun school officials from initially disclosing the two cases of sexual assault until they were investigated by law enforcement authorities.

Ziegler said the school system was revamping its disciplinary procedures and its interaction with the Loudoun Sheriff’s Office to ensure that parents and students are alerted to potential danger similar to the cases where the 15-year-old boy allegedly assaulted the two female students.

Meanwhile, school officials and the LGBTQ advocacy group Equality Loudoun have pointed out that law enforcement officials have yet to confirm whether the 15-year-old boy charged in the two cases was actually dressed in women’s clothes during the first incident or whether he is trans or gender fluid.

Equality Loudoun’s president, Cris Candice Tuck, released a statement to the Washington Blade on Oct. 18 that she said was the first official known statement responding to the Loudoun school controversy from an LGBTQ organization.

“In light of the reporting of recent sexual assault allegations, the Board of Directors of Equality Loudoun wishes to extend our deepest sympathies to the victims of these heinous attacks and their families,” the statement says. “Equality Loudoun advocates for due process and justice for the victims regardless of whether the alleged perpetrator was a member of the LGBTQ+ community,” the statement continues. “Such actions have no place in our community, and Equality Loudoun does not condone any form of sexual violence, assault, or harassment,” it says.

“However, the accusations that the alleged perpetrator of these assaults is transgender or genderfluid have so far been unverified,” the Equality Loudoun statement asserts. “Attempts to shift blame of this incident to any individual, group, or policy – other than the alleged perpetrator – does a grave disservice to the victims of these crimes and already marginalized youth in our community.”

The statement adds, “We remind those advocating for change to the laws and policies that the initial assault predated any enactment of Policy 8040 by almost 4 months.”

The Equality Loudoun statement was referring to the fact that the Loudoun County School Board did not vote to approve the school system’s trans nondiscrimination policy until August of this year, more than three months after the first of the two sexual assault incidents occurred. 

The policy, among other things, allows transgender and genderfluid students to use the school bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity. The policy also requires that teachers, school administrators and fellow students address a trans or genderfluid student by their chosen name and pronouns.

“Inadvertent slips in the use of names and pronouns may occur,” the policy states. “However, staff or students who intentionally and persistently refuse to respect a student’s gender identity by using the wrong name and gender pronoun are in violation of this policy,” it states.

The statement says that rumors of a bathroom “pilot” program that predated the official approval of Policy 8040 that would have allowed female trans or genderfluid students to use the girls’ bathrooms “are simply untrue” and were never put in place.

In a separate statement to the Blade, Equality Loudoun’s Cris Candice Tuck challenged claims by some parents and conservative political activists, some of whom are supporting Virginia’s GOP gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin over Democrat Terry McAulliffe, that the trans nondiscrimination policy is placing students at risk for sexual assault.

“The adoption of nondiscrimination policies are in no way endangering students,” Candice Tuck said. “Across the country, sexual assaults have occurred in schools for decades before any transgender inclusive policies were passed,” she said. “And in those counties and states where such protections have passed in recent years, there has been no verified incidence of anyone abusing such policies to commit such attacks in schools.”

Candice Tuck added, “The focus should be on improving systems of reporting, coordination, and investigation, protecting the victims of these attacks, and creating safer school environments by creating modernized areas and bathrooms that increase protection for all students, including LGBTQ+ students who are statistically more likely to be the victim of such a crime.”  

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