New Google Doodle honours trailblazing astronomer and gay rights pioneer Frank Kameny

The 2 June Google Doodle of Frank Kameny

Wednesday’s (2 June) Google Doodle honours astronomer and LGBT+ pioneer Frank Kameny, a trailblazing activist who took the first-ever gay rights case to the US Supreme Court.

The Doodle, in celebration of Pride month, encourages Google users to learn about the gay astronomer, who “courageously paved the way for decades of progress”.

Born in New York in 1925, Kameny went to university when he was just 15-years-old, before leaving to fight in World War II. When he returned, he continued his studies and by 1957 had a doctorate in astronomy from Harvard University.

The talented astronomer landed a job with the Army Map Service, the military cartographic agency of the United States Department of Defense.

However, his new job only lasted a few months before he was fired for being gay, and banned from any future federal employment.

Refusing to accept the discrimination, Kameny decided to sue to government, and took the first-ever gay rights case to the US Supreme Court.

Although unsuccessful, it was a beginning of a lifetime of LGBT+ rights activism for Kameny.

He went on to co-found the Washington DC branch of the Mattachine Society, which held the first-ever gay rights picket outside the White House in 1965. The protests soon expanded and were also held outside the United Nations, the Pentagon and the United States Civil Service Commission.

Frank Kameny

Frank Kameny in 2010. (The Washington Post via Getty/ Sarah L. Voisin)

Kameny campaigned to overturn sodomy laws in Washington, DC, and even drafted the bill that eventually passed in 1993.

He also work with Barbara Gittings to push for the declassification of homosexuality as a mental disorder, finally succeeding in 1973 when the American Psychiatric Association (APA) finally declared that homosexuality was not a disease.

In 2009, more than half a century after his dismissal, he received a formal apology from John Berry, the highest-ranking gay official in the Obama administration, on behalf of the federal government.

He said: “In what we know today was a shameful action, the United States Civil Service Commission in 1957 upheld your dismissal from your job solely on the basis of your sexual orientation… Please accept our apology for the consequences of the previous policy of the United States government.”

Google said: “Thank you, Frank Kameny, for courageously paving the way for decades of progress!”