Yesterday a newly installed memorial headstone for gay rights pioneer Frank Kameny was installed as part of the annual LGBT Veterans Day ceremony sponsored by the D.C. Center for the LGBT Community that is held each year at Congressional Cemetery.
The Kameny headstone along with a footstone bearing the slogan, “Gay is Good,” which Kameny coined in 1968, have been placed at a cemetery plot just behind the Air Force Sgt. Leonard Matlovich grave. The plot was purchased by the LGBT charitable group Helping Our Brothers and Sisters because of the Kameny estates lacking funds four years ago after the death of the gay rights legend
This comes after years of fighting between the Kamney family, friends, and his legal heir Timothy Clark, a man of dubious reputation who has held the remains of Frank Kameny, one of the greatest gay activists hostage and interned in a storeroom of a Washington, D.C. cemetery over a three years after his death. Clark would not allow the interment of the ashes to take place until HOBS signs over ownership of the cemetery plot to the estate.
But that never happened and while Clark at one time agreed to allowing half of Kameny’s ashes to be interned at the memorial, in the end Timothy Clark broke his word and decided to inter all the ashes at an undisclosed location and asking the community to respect “his wishes and his privacy”.
I just can’t do that because this is not Clark’s first disruption of sharing Kameny’s legacy. 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 charges were brought against the same men who helped Kameny financially to pay his bills and keep his house in the last years of his life as he was destitute. While Clark contributed nothing to help
Clark had even gone as far as to have Kameny’s nationally recognized “Gay is Good” slogan trademarked as to make money off it.
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 and demanded its removal 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.”
Ackerman told the Washington Blade (and it must be noted that Mr. Ackerman is also The Washington Blade’s 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.”
This is just some in a long line of incidents that have occurred between Kameny’s executor Timothy Lamont Clark and the gay community since Franks passing. And while we finally have a memorial to one the greatest gay rights leader ever we will never know, the whereabouts of his ashes lay will not be because of pettiness and greed.
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