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Gay Is Good: The Letters of Franklin Kameny

Gay Is Good: The Letters of Franklin Kameny

Rona Barrett 1975X633 0
Kameny to Rona Barrett

Kameny criticizes Hollywood gossip reporter Rona Barrett for having commented negatively on the recent presence of homosexuals in films. In 1969, homosexuality was prominently depicted in Midnight Cowboy, Staircase, and The Damned, among other films.

July 25, 1969

Dear Miss Barrett:

On a recent television broadcast, soon on WTTG-Channel 5, Washington, you deplored the current appearance of a number of films on homosexuality, with words to the general effect that, while we know that these things exist, must we show them on the screen? ...

Your comments are remarkably similar to those heard in the South in past (and present?) years — “We all know that Negroes and whites marry, but must we see them on the screen?” In fact, except for portrayals of them in the most menial of roles, Negroes did not appear on the American screen at all until recently (nor on television). Negroes objected, of course, and properly so, and so do we.

I placed my life in jeopardy for this country, in front line combat under enemy fire in World War II. I did not do so in order that I and my fellow homosexuals should simply be “swept under the rug” and kept out of sight.

If you do not like us, leave the theater — it will be your loss, not ours. If you find us distasteful, the fault is yours, not ours. The Ku Klux Klan finds Negroes distasteful; the American Nazis find Jews distasteful. That is the company in which you place yourself, although I am sure that you have not considered it in quite that way.

I will grant that the current flood of pictures on homosexuality shows us in a distorted and most unfavorable light. We have our love and affection, our tender moments, our joys and happinesses, our lasting and meaningful relationships, in no smaller number than you and your heterosexuals do. And, in due time, when the sensational phase and the novelty have passed, these, too, will be shown. ...

In parallel with the Negro slogan “Black is Beautiful,” we have adopted “Gay is Good.” It is. Whether you like it or not, we are here to stay, we are part of American life and society, and you will be seeing a lot more of us, both on and off the screen.

Sincerely yours, Franklin E. Kameny


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