Franklin E. Kameny (1925- )

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Kameny was born in Queens, New York, in 1925 to a modest, middleclass Jewish family. His Polish-born father worked as an electrical engineer for an automotive parts company; his mother, born on New York’s Lower East Side, had been a secretary for the famous lawyer Max Steuer. A precocious child, Kameny took an early interest in science and by the age of six had decided on a career in astronomy. After skipping several grades and graduating from Richmond Hill High School at the age of sixteen, he studied physics at New York’s Queens College. With World War II came nightly blackouts, which made for prime stargazing for the budding astronomer, but the war eventually took Kameny away to Europe, where he served as a U.S. Army mortar crewman. His knowledge of the German language also made him the unofficial company interpreter. Until then, Kameny had been painfully shy, but, according to his mother, his service in the war brought him out of his shell. After the war, he finished his undergraduate education and won a scholarship to Harvard to study astronomy.

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Franklin E. Kameny (1925- ), in V. L. Bullough (Ed.), Before Stonewall: Activists for Gay and Lesbian Rights in Historical Context, Routledge, p. 209-218