November 23, 2016 at 8:31 am EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Kameny story told in comics

Redistrict, gay news, Washington BladeA D.C.-based online comics site called ReDistricted earlier this month published an illustrated story of the life of pioneering gay rights leader Frank Kameny.

The story, called Gay is Good, which was taken from the slogan Kameny coined in 1968, consists of 19 comic panels with illustrations and write-ups about Kameny’s work.

Among other things, the panels tell of how Kameny’s career as an astronomer with the U.S. Army Map Service ended in the late 1950s with his being fired after the government discovered he was gay. With a Ph.D. in astronomy from Harvard University, the cartoon panels show how Kameny shifted his career to a full-time gay rights advocate at a time when known homosexuals were blacklisted from government and most private industry jobs.

“From then on, he was a tireless activist who forcefully yet peacefully challenged the misguided policies and norms using mainly his typewriter and placards,” the opening narrative to the comic story says.

The ReDistricted website says the story on Kameny was written by Bizhan Khodabandeh and James Moffitt and the graphic art was done by Bizhan Khodabandeh. The site where the Kameny story was published is managed and edited by award-winning cartoonist Matt Dembicki.

“It wasn’t by chance that we published it right after the election,” Dembicki told the Blade in an email. “We can learn lessons, appreciate what we have and find inspiration from history. The Kameny story does exactly that at a time we need it.”

The Kameny story can be accessed at redistrictedcomics.com/kameny.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

1 Comment
  • While VERY much appreciating the intentions of the comic’s authors, we’re shocked that two people who admire Frank so much would be so sloppy with the factual details of his unique life. His firing by the Army Map Service was not in 1958 but on December 20, 1957. On January 15, 1958, he was informed by the Civil Service Commission that he was barred from future employment by any federal agency. In addition, he didn’t form a “gay veterans group” in 1980 to “annually lay a wreath at the unknown soldier’s tomb.” It’s the “Tomb of the Unknown Soldier” or “Tomb of the Unknowns,” the group already existed (though he was one of its cofounders), and wasn’t specifically for veterans. At least the illustration gets the name almost right, “Gay Activists Alliance,” but misspells it as “Aliance.” Finally, as much as he loved DC, it was not his “home town.” That was New York City. We look forward to a corrected version of the online comic, and thank them for their efforts.

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