Sunday, December 4, 2011

Frank Kameny

Where: National Museum of American History

When: through January 16, 2012

Frank Kameny, who died recently, was a gay rights activist.  He was fired from his government position in 1957 because he was gay, and this led him to speak out against discrimination towards gays and lesbians.  Three of the posters he carried in demonstrations during the 1960s are on display in the cases close to the Mall Entrance.

Again, I was struck as I looked at these posters that there were no references to the AIDS quilt panel in the Constitution Avenue cases or to the Archives exhibition.  Puzzled, I thought that someone interested in one item would be interested in all three, and it would make a good lunchtime trip.  Then, I happened to read an article in the Washington Post:, which explained that, in an effort to avoid the unpleasantness surrounding last year's Portrait Gallery exhibit, Hide/Seek, the museum deliberately divided the exhibits, putting the AIDS quilt panel in a more prominent place, and the archives exhibit, which has some material that some might find objectionable (gasp, a condom) in what the article describes as a "less trafficked area." Of course, any child too young to be told about condoms would have zero interest in the archives exhibit, as it contains no bells or whistles, but I guess that's beside the point.

I also found out that the Hide/Seek exhibit is now in a museum in Brooklyn.  If you live in that area, do check this out.  The controversial video has been restored to the show, so you can actually see more than what was available to us in DC.  It will be traveling to Tacoma, Washington, so those of you on the West Coast have that to anticipate.

Verdict: Go see these posters, and check out the AIDS quilt and archives exhibit - easily manageable in a lunch hour.

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