Taking Back the Workplace

In the 1950s, Frank Kameny was fired from his job in the Army Map Service for "sexual perversion." Now he's watching an openly gay man run the very office once responsible for scrubbing gays from the government.

BY Kerry Eleveld

April 03 2009 12:00 AM ET

"We purposely didn't
publicize them because we didn't want to give the bureaucrats
some way to find a reason why we couldn't do it," he
explained. But after the initial protest of about 10 people at
the White House in April of 1965 went off without a hitch, they
took their show to the Pentagon, the State Department, and, of
course, the Civil Service Commission.

They closed out the
year with a final White House action in October. "By the
standards of our day, it was huge!" he recalled, before
delivering the punch line. "We had 65 people," he said,
chuckling at the success of the nascent movement.

At 83, soon to turn 84
in May, Kameny reeled off the chronology, date, and locations
like they happened yesterday. Then he paused and asked again
why I called.

I told him I wondered
how he felt about the possibility that John Berry might be
heading up OPM.

"I remember seeing
his name somewhere," Kameny said of the news, "but I don't
know terribly much about him."

I said I wasn't so much
interested in his estimation of Berry as I was in the fact that
a gay man might be heading the organization.

Silence weighted the
other end of the line as I realized Mr. Kameny hadn't fully
grasped the news.

"Oh, oh my…" he
said as it settled in. "For the first time in this whole
conversation, this is really registering on me. Oh, my…now I am
impressed!" he said with a hint of glee in his voice. "Macy
must be turning over in his grave," he added, referencing
John W. Macy Jr., his archrival who chaired the commission in
the '60s.

Tags: Politics

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