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DISGUSTING – Frank Kameny’s Estate Trademarks “Gay Is Good”, Stops LGBT Publics General Use

In a move that would make late great gay activist Frank Kameny roll over in his grave, if he actually had one since it is now a year after his death and his ashes have still have not been buried because fights and lawsuits between Kameny’s estate handler and Washington D.C. gay insiders. Timothy Lamont Clark, the Personal Representative of the Estate of Dr. Franklin E. Kameny,  has had Kameny’s nationally recognized “Gay is Good” slogan trademarked.

Clark, and his lawyer Glen Ackerman recently ordered D.C. gay activist Christopher Dyer to stop using Kameny’s nationally recognized “Gay is Good” slogan as part of the name of an LGBT rights website that Dyer launched on Oct. 11th and demanded its removal.  And even though Dyer explained to the estate that he would not be using the “Gay is Good” phrase for commercial profit and gain that made no difference.

“The executor of the estate has not made a decision regarding how to best utilize the trademark,” Ackerman replied in an email to Dyer. “As such, it is imperative that you cease using the phrase immediately. It is not relevant that you are not using the phrase for commercial profit or gain. The estate will enforce its trademark rights.”

Replied Dyer, the former head of the city’s Office of GLBT Affairs, “Ok. I will cease from this point forward… On a personal note, I am frankly disgusted that the estate took this action. It wasn’t the intent of Frank to have this phrase trademarked.”

Dwyer who used the phrase to make “Gay is Good, Make LGBT Great” for a newly created Facebook page to serve as “a page that highlights individuals who are doing work to make the lives of LGBT people great.”

But Ackerman told the Washington Blade (and it must be noted that Mr. Ackerman is also The Washington Blades attorney) that the estate declares in its application for the trademark that the objective of the trademark is to ensure that the slogan is always used as intended by Kameny – to promote LGBT equality in a dignified and respectful manner but also added “This slogan that Frank Kameny coined in 1968 is his intellectual property,” Ackerman said. “Frank owns it. It is historical. We are protecting it so that it will always remain connected to Frank, not Christopher Dyer, not other people, but to Frank.”

Which also means that wanting to use “Gay is Good” seeks having to ask permission and  possibly paying the estate to use it.

This is just the latest incident of the disgusting greed and pettiness that has occurred between Franks executor Timothy Lamont Clark, his lawyer Ackerman and the Washington, D,C. gay community over Kameny’s legacy and also his remains.

Clark filed separate lawsuits against four of Kameny’s longtime friends and fellow activists, charging that they “wrongfully” removed property from Kameny’s house shortly after his death last October.  (The suits were later dropped) These are the same men who helped Kameny financially to pay bills and keep his house in the last years of his life as he was destitute.  While Clark contributed little to no help.

But the most upsetting thing is that the remains of Frank Kameny, one of the greatest gay activists ever ashes remain interned and sitting  in a storeroom of a Washington, D.C. cemetery over a year after his death because a Washington, D.C. group named “Helping Our Brothers and Sisters” bought Kameny a burial plot after his death because of Kameny’s lack of funds and the estate will not allow the interment of the ashes to take place until HOBS signs over ownership of the cemetery plot to the estate.

This is an insult and injustice to the legacy and memory of Frank Kameny and reeks of nothing more than petty behavior and an outright attempt to make as much money for Mr. Clark and Mr. Ackerman in the guise of “protecting” Dr. Kameny’s legacy while doing nothing more than spitting on it.

This is nothing less than a gay travesty and a disservice to the memory and the great works of Dr, Frank Kameny and  Timothy Lamont Clark and Glen Ackerman should be ashamed.

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Will Kohler

Will Kohler is a noted LGBT historian, journalist and owner of Back2Stonewall.com. A longtime gay activist, Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced in notable media venues as MSNBC and BBC News, The Washington Post, The Daily Beast, Hollywood Reporter, and Raw Story,

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2 thoughts on “DISGUSTING – Frank Kameny’s Estate Trademarks “Gay Is Good”, Stops LGBT Publics General Use”

  1. As someone who contributed to “Helping Our Brothers and Sisters” in the belief that Dr. Kameny was in need, I am disgusted that his heir is seeking to profit off Kameny’s work for equal rights.

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