Ailing Cuban dictator Fidel Castro can indirectly be held accountable for sparking the modern U.S. gay rights movement, gay rights activist Frank Kameny said Monday.
It was Castro's 1965 detention of gay Cubans that ultimately incited the storied Stonewall riots in New York's Greenwich Village in the summer of 1969, Kameny wrote in an e=mail, according to The Atlantic. The violence that took place that summer at the Stonewall Inn -- a visceral reaction to frequent antigay police raids and repeated instances of brutality -- was a landmark event in the early struggle for gay rights in America.
Following Castro's recent acknowledgment of the injustices perpetrated against gay Cubans under his watch during the first decade of his regime, Kameny now says Cuba's policy of interning gays as "counterrevolutionaries" prompted a number of early protests against America's comparable treatment of its gay population. Kameny recalls seeing a number of signs with messages like "Cuba Persecutes Gays; Is America Much Better?"
Pickets at the White House, the Pentagon, and the State Department can all be traced back to Castro, Kameny wrote.
"So," he said, "if you enter into a same-sex marriage, or are helped by a gay-protective anti-discrimination law, or run for elective office as an open gay, thank Fidel."