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“They could be anywhere,” a police officer filmed by WTVJ warned a group of schoolchildren in South Florida in 1966.
He told them about the threat posed by homosexuals, not knowing that the real danger was deep and pervasive prejudices.
“They might be policemen, they might be school teachers. If we catch you gay, your parents will be the first to find out…”.
Being gay was, at the time, illegal in the United States.
By 1962, all 50 states had criminalized same-sex sexual activity, and all remaining laws would be repealed until 2003, paving the way for the most comprehensive recognition of LGBT rights in the world.
But the problem went beyond criminalization.
A decade before decriminalization, homosexuality was included in the first edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (commonly known as the DSM, the bible of the psychiatric field and the authoritative book of all diagnoses).
That is, the American Psychiatric Association (APA), the most influential part of the American Medical Association, Defined as gay A disorder, mEspecially Ace, A “night of trouble” mentally ill Personality”.
The 1952 classification meant that anyone who deviated from the boundaries of gender could be institutionalized against their will and subjected to “cures” such as chemical castrations, electroconvulsive therapy and lobotomies.
Furthermore, it deeply damaged not only the way LGBT people were valued in society, but also their self-image.
And it made the environment more hostile.
Psychiatry’s “Scientific Support” for Prejudice I told her pThat is For a wide range of discriminatory practices: from denying homosexuals employment, citizenship, housing and child custody rights; Until they were excluded from the clergy, the military, and the institution of marriage.
The options for the LGBT community were few: hide what you were or suffer the consequences.
There were those who risked doing the latter.
Stopping the madness
The DSM classification was first attacked in the 1960s by a group of activists led by LGBT rights pioneer Frank Khamenei, a PhD astronomer at Harvard University who was kicked out of the military for being gay.
They began a multi-year campaign demanding declassification of the diagnosis.
The Achilles heel of the APA’s claim that being gay is a mental disorder A complete lack of scientific data to support itAnd this played into the activists’ favor, especially as that view began to embarrass a new generation of psychiatrists.
In 1971, after failing at the APA’s annual meeting, they were allowed to hold a panel discussion on homosexuality at the next year’s convention.
On the one hand, the project involved two psychiatrists from the association, and on the other, Khamenei was to participate with Barbara Gittings, a pioneering lesbian known as the mother of lesbian and gay liberation.
However, it appeared to enthusiasts Better to have both a psychiatrist and a homosexual.
After all, there was an underground group calling itself K-PA (a play on the sound of APA in English, since the letter A is pronounced ‘ei’ and K is pronounced ‘gei’).
They wrote to all of them… and they all said “No”; No matter how much they agree – they themselves secretly fight for the same cause – coming out of the shadows means, among other things, professional immersion.
But then someone changed their mind, and on the second day of the APA’s annual convention in 1972, something a little absurd and comical but unusual happened.
The Danish Room at the Adolphus Hotel in Dallas was packed with psychiatrists for the event’s controversial topic, “Psychiatry: Friend or Foe of Gays? A Conversation.”
Across from them at the microphone table was a panel consisting of Gittings and Khamenei and psychiatrist Kent Robinson.
And at the last moment a grotesque-looking man emerged from between some of the side screens and took his place at the front of the room.
He was dressed in an oversized tuxedo, a wig with thick, messy curls, and his face was hidden behind a faux rubber mask of then-President Nixon.
But if his appearance was striking, his words, delivered through a microphone, distorted by his voice, drew attention.
“I’m gay, and I’m a psychiatrist,” he declared.
A part of humanity
“Like most of you in this room, I am a member of the APA and proud to be one,” continued the character, identified as “Dr. Henry Anonymous.”
He noted that he was not only a gay psychiatrist, but a flesh-and-blood person who “felt that it was time for many to stand up in front of this organization of ours and ask to be heard and understood as much as possible.”
He spoke of the secret world of homosexual psychiatrists who were non-official and secretive, hiding every trace of their private lives from their colleagues because they had too much to lose.
“However, we face an even greater danger by not living our humanity to the fullest,” he said.
“It is a great loss, our honest humanity and That loss causes everyone around us to lose even a small part of their humanity.. Because if they’re really comfortable with their own homosexuality, they might be comfortable with ours.
“So we need to use our skills and wisdom to help ourselves and grow comfortable with that small part of humanity that is gay.”
After uttering those last words, Dr. Anonymous received a standing ovation.
Among the first ranks of those who admired the courage and honesty of Dr. Anonymous was the administrator of Friends Hospital, who shortly fired the man behind the mask. John Ersel PryorSaying to him:
“If you’re gay and not active, we wouldn’t fire you. If you were active and not gay. But because you’re gay and active, we can’t keep you,” Pryor recounted in the Journal of Gay. & Lesbian Psychotherapy 2002.
This is not the first time this has happened to him.
Entering college at 15 and medical school at 19, Pryor had distinguished himself academically since college, but he faced repeated setbacks when his supervisors discovered he was gay.
In 1964, when he was already living on America’s more tolerant East Coast and attending the University of Pennsylvania, he made the mistake of telling a friend that he was gay.
He told his father, who told the head of department at the university.
Pryor was faced with an ultimatum in the department chair’s office: “You either resign or I fire you.”
His “mistake” forced him to spend years doing humiliating work at the only institution that would accept him, a state psychiatric hospital, in order to complete his residency.
What followed was a long and uncertain road to ownership.
By ItsWhat came out of the closet was a little temptingSo even after he made the little speech, it stayed with him.
It would be 20 years before Pryor appeared before the APA as “Dr. Anonymous.”
But his words were instrumental in driving a change of attitude within the APA to facilitate the removal of homosexuality from the DSM.
Gradually, the activists’ persistence took its toll and in 1973 the association overturned a ruling it had held for more than two decades, freeing homosexuals in America and elsewhere to be considered DSM authority in psychiatry. ‘Disease’.
Or as the Chicago Gay Crusader headlined, “20,000,000 Gays Recovered!”
In making a difference, APA’s Board of Trustees “supports and promotes the passage of civil rights legislation at the local, state and federal levels.” To ensure gay citizens the same protections now guaranteed to others“.
A long process of ending the discriminatory and oppressive practices that diagnosis endorses can begin.
It took decades for gay rights historians to fully recognize the relevance of Pryor’s words in that Dallas hotel ballroom in 1972.
“I did that one event, which changed my life, which helped change the culture in my industry, and I disappeared.said the Fryer.
Some today see the significance of ‘that one isolated event’ as the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York, which was the catalyst for the modern LGBT rights movement in America.
This year in Philadelphia Dr. It marks the 50th anniversary of Anonymous’ speech, and May 2 is declared John Pryor Day.
This is not the only recognition.
The APA presents the ‘Fryer Award’ in his honor to individuals who have made significant contributions to improving the health of gender minorities.
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