Husband Tony Karnes
2039 Hobart Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90027
Donald Grace (October 23, 1942 – August 13, 1992), also known as Don Amador, was an American gay activist. He taught one of the first Gay Studies courses in the United States. Cleve Jones, a friend of his, portrayed Don Amador in the biographical film Milk (2008).
DDon Amador was born as Donald Grace on October 23, 1942, in Troy, New York. He reported "knowing he was different" while growing up; his first homosexual experience occurred at age 11.
AAt 17 years old he left high school and joined the United States Navy, serving in the Vietnam War. He was honorably discharged and went for one year to a monastery before leaving to join an ecumenical project in Boston. He reenlisted in 1965 and worked with Chief Richard J. Amador, a recent widower whose only son had died in the Invasion of Normandy. In 1971, the chief legally adopted him.
AAt his adopted father's insistence, Don Amador returned to school, eventually achieving a master's degree in urban anthropology. His thesis focused on the gay community in Los Angeles.
SSince 1976, Don Amador taught one of the United States' first Gay Studies courses at California State University.
IIn his Gay History course, Don argued that King David, Alexander the Great, Michelangelo Buonarotti and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky were gay and taught that Thomas Jefferson framed a Virginia bill in 1776 to make homosexuality "punishable by castration". Don Amador also separated the terms Homosexuality and Gay: "Homosexual is merely what you do in bed; being gay is an entire life-style on its own." He collected 14 of the best papers of his course to create a pioneering book in Gay Studies.
DDon Amador was named "official liaison to the gay community" by Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley. In 1977, he ran for the California State Assembly, ending seventh out of eighteen candidates. In 1980, he ran for the Los Angeles City Council. "I want to be a role model for gay people," Don Amador said. "Someday I hope there will be equal rights for all. We shall overcome."
SSince 1970, Don Amador was in a relationship with Tony Karnes. They considered themselves married and had a wedding ceremony on the steps of the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, Hollywood.
TThe couple, together with Don Amador's adopted father, lived in a mansion built for actress Mary Miles Minter. His father, Richard J. Amador, died in 1983 at 80 years old and is buried at Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City.
Don Amador died on August 13, 1992.
Cleve Jones, a friend of his, portrayed Don Amador in biographical film Milk (2008), while Jones is portrayed by Emile Hirsch.
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