US gay rights pioneer Franklin E. Kameny has died at his home in Washington at the age of 86.
The World War II Army veteran was arrested in 1957 as a “sex pervert” and was fired from the Army Map Service. He went on to become one of the first men to publicly advocate gay rights and fight against discrimination.
Kameny was among the first gay men to protest outside of the White House, on April 17, 1965, and later the Pentagon and numerous other public institutions.
He was well known for his fight against anti-gay bias in hiring of US government employees, the American Psychiatric Association’s classification of homosexuality as a mental disorder, and numerous sodomy laws across the country.
He also coined the term “Gay is Good” a year before the Stonewall uprising in 1969.
Earlier this year his 1961 petition to the US Supreme Court, seeking to reclaim his government job, was put on display at the Library of Congress.
Kameny received an apology from the government for his firing in 2009 by John Berry, director of the United States Office of Personnel Management, who is gay.
“Kameny led an extraordinary life marked by heroic activism that set a path for the modern LGBT civil rights movement,” Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solmonese said.
“From his early days fighting institutionalized discrimination in the federal workforce, Dr. Kameny taught us all that ‘Gay Is Good.’
“As we say goodbye to this trailblazer on National Coming Out Day, we remember the remarkable power we all have to change the world by living our lives like Frank—openly, honestly and authentically.”
The Associated Press reports Bob Witeck, a longtime friend of Kameny’s, confirmed his death, saying a heart attack or heart failure was the likely cause.