Arts

In ‘The Deviant’s War,’ Eric Cervini Writes About ‘Grandfather Of The Gay Rights Movement’

"The Deviant's War" is out for purchase now.
"The Deviant's War" is out for purchase now.
Credit Eric Cervini

The history of the gay rights movement usually begins with the Stonewall Uprising in 1969.

In fact, the movement’s origins go back to 1957, when a brilliant astronomer was fired from his high-level job by the U.S. government. The importance of Franklin Kameny and the history of gay civil rights cannot be overstated.

Yet, his name is not widely known.

Dr. Eric Cervini has set out to change that with his new book “The Deviant’s War: The Homosexual vs. The United States of America.

“City Lights” host Lois Reitzes spoke with Cervini via Zoom about the “grandfather of the gay rights movement.”

Interview Highlights

Why Frank Kameny’s demonstrations were lesser known:

“Frank Kameny believed part of the reason why his demonstrations were so small, why it was so difficult to recruit people to sue the federal government, why it was so hard to convince gay Americans that, in fact, they were not sick, they did not suffer a mental disorder as psychiatrists would have you believe. He knew that he had to combat that sense of inferiority first.”

How Gay Pride got its start: 

“[Kameny] wanted to make an equally arbitrary argument in response [to the federal government] to prove that the government’s rationale was also illogical, unconstitutional and arbitrary. He argued that homosexual activity was actually a moral good. And he made this claim openly and submitted his claim as Kameny vs. [Wilber M.] Brucker, the secretary of the Army, instead of Anonymous vs. Brucker … which was absolutely his prerogative. In my dissertation and in this book, I really argue that was really the beginnings of what Gay Pride is, what we celebrate each and every June. Declaring the moral goodness of one’s condition and also doing so openly whether it’s on the streets … or — in the case of Frank Kameny — in the Supreme Court.”

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