When did Frank Kameny run for Congress? Gay rights activist's political career

Eve Edwards June 2, 2021
When did Frank Kameny run for Congress? Gay rights activist’s political career
Photo by Chuck Kennedy/MCT/Tribune News Service via Getty Images


When did Frank Kameny run for Congress? As Google Doodle celebrates Frank Kameny on 2 June 2021, we explore when the gay rights activist ran for Congress and his political career.

Pride Month is celebrated annually in June to honour the 1969 Stonewall​ Riots. Significant LGBTQ+ figures and activists are commemorated throughout the month, and Google has kicked off June by celebrating Frank Kameny.

Kameny, born 21 May 1925 in New York, was an astronomer in the US Army’s Army Map Service in Washington, DC. In 1957, he was dismissed from his role in the Army because of his sexual orientation.

Kameny later challenged his firing in the US courts and, although unsuccessful, it was the first known civil rights claim based on sexual orientation pursued in a US court.

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When did Frank Kameny run for Congress?

  • 1971

In 1971, Frank Kameny became the first openly gay candidate for the US Congress.

He ran in the District of Columbia’s first election for a non-voting Congressional delegate.

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Did Frank Kameny become a Congressman?

No. Frank Kameny was unsuccessful in his bid for US Congressman. He was defeated by Democrat candidate Walter E. Fauntroy.

Although unsuccessful, this foray into politics led Kameny to create the Gay And Lesbian Alliance Of Washington, DC. This organisation continues to lobby government in the quest for equal rights.

Gerry Studds was the first openly gay Congressman to serve in the United States. He served from 1973 to 1997.

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More about his career as an activist

Frank Kameny was largely known for his campaigning work with Barbara Gittings. Together with Gittings, Kameny led the successful effort to remove homosexuality from the American Psychiatric Association’s list of mental disorders in 1973.

As a Second World War veteran, Kameny orchestrated Vietnam War hero Sergeant Leonard Matlovich’s public admission of homosexuality. This was to bring the issue of openly gay servicemen in the military to the national consciousness.

In December 2010, Kameny was seated in the front row when former US President Barack Obama signed the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” into law. This allowed gay servicemen and women to serve openly in the US Armed Forces.

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Eve spends her days writing about everything culture-related. From celebrity news to music, film and television, Eve covers all bases. When she’s not writing you can find her making music or mastering the art of homemade pasta.