Last edited: February 14, 2005

Gay Rights Activist to Speak Here

Recent Shootings and Virginia’s Sodomy Laws Discussed

Roanoke Times, November 15, 2000
P.O. Box 2491, Roanoke, VA, 24010
Fax: 703-981-3204

By Mike Hudson, The Roanoke Times

Franklin Kameny, known nationally as the father of militant gay activism, will be in Roanoke Thursday to speak about the gay rights movement’s history and future.

Kameny, who is based in Washington, D.C., gained attention last year in Roanoke by writing a letter soliciting private acts of sodomy with top city law enforcement officials -- a gesture he said was aimed at making people think about the absurdity of how Virginia’s anti-sodomy laws are enforced.

He will speak to an open meeting of the Roanoke Valley chapter of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. His talk will be at 7 p.m. at the Williamson Road Church of the Brethren, 3110 Pioneer Road N.W.

Kameny, 75, founded Washington’s gay rights movement in the 1960s and was a driving force behind repeal of the city’s sodomy laws.

He said gays and lesbians across the nation have made huge strides over the past 10 years. "Gays are able to come out in ways that just would have been unthinkable before."

For example, he said large employers that offered benefits to domestic partners were a rarity at the beginning of the 1990s, but they’re common now.

Kameny said he will talk Thursday about the Sept. 22 shootings at Roanoke’s Backstreet Cafe, which police have labeled an anti-gay hate crime.

He said he will also talk about Roanoke authorities’ prosecution of gay men snared in an undercover police sting in a city park. Ten gay men convicted of soliciting sodomy have taken their cases to the Virginia Court of Appeals, arguing that the state’s sodomy laws are an unconstitutional invasion of the privacy rights of all adults who engage in oral sex.

Virginia’s sodomy law classifies oral sex as a felony punishable by up to five years in prison. Kameny argues that the law "makes habitual, recidivist, repetitive felons of almost the entire adult population of the state of Virginia."

— Mike Hudson can be reached at 981-3332 or

As a somewhat humorous note, after the tv news segment mentioned above was aired, the pastor of the somewhat conservative church cited above as the site of the PFLAG meeting disinvited PFLAG (presumably because of my allusions to sodomy), who then had to scurry around and find another
location (a Unitarian Church) and inform people of the change. Efforts are under way to mend relationships.

— Frank Kameny,

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