Franklin E. Kameny, one of the nation’s most prominent gay rights leaders, died in his home today from an apparent natural causes. He was 86.
The death came less a month before the planned celebration of the 50th anniversary of Kameny’s founding of the Mattachine Society of Washington, the first gay rights organization in the nation’s capital.
LGBT rights advocates Charles Francis and Bob Witeck, who were longtime friends of Kameny’s and established the project to preserve Kameny’s papers over a 50-year period, said they would be announcing soon plans for a memorial service to honor the gay rights leader’s life.
Timothy Clark, Kameny’s tenant, said he found Kameny unconscious and unresponsive in his bed shortly after 5 p.m. on Tuesday. Clark called 911 police emergency and rescue workers determined that Kameny had passed away earlier, most likely in his sleep. Clark said he had spoken with Kameny shortly before midnight on the previous day and Kameny didn’t seem to be in distress.
Kameny is credited with being one of the leading strategists for the early gay rights movement — beginning shortly before the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York’s Greenwich Village and continuing afterward.