THE PEOPLE WHO MADE HISTORY

In a David-versus-Goliath story, CURED will reveal how a small group of impassioned activists took on a formidable institution and — to the surprise of many — won. Viewers will meet the key players who achieved this victory, including pioneering lesbian and gay crusaders who refused to accept psychiatry’s declaration that they were sick, along with allies and opponents within the APA.

Barbara Gittings

Position: Activist

A tenacious organizer, Barbara Gittings (1932–2007) joined the homophile movement, as it was then known, in 1958 and played a crucial role in the APA fight. She worked closely with activist Frank Kameny to confront the APA. In 1971, Gittings joined a group of seven out lesbians to discuss homosexuality on PBS’ The David Susskind Show. When Susskind points to “the body of medical evidence that suggests [homosexuality] is a mental aberration,” Gittings rebuts the assertion, arguing that “the body of knowledge which claims sickness for homosexuality has to be challenged.”

Barbara Gittings

Activist

A tenacious organizer, Barbara Gittings (1932–2007) joined the homophile movement,...

Lahusen sitting in her living room

Kay Lahusen

Position: Photographer & Activist

Kay Lahusen (1930–2021), Barbara Gittings’ life partner of 46 years, shared her recollections of the APA fight during two days of filming in Pennsylvania. “We could not expect our civil rights,” she reflected, “as long as we were burdened with the sickness label.” An amateur photographer, Lahusen created an extensive archival record that is invaluable in telling the story chronicled in CURED. Notably, she took photos of the 1972 panel discussion featuring “Dr. Anonymous” — John Fryer — describing his experiences as a gay psychiatrist. In her later years, she never lost her activist spirit. She even started a group for LGBTQ residents at her Pennsylvania retirement home.

Kay Lahusen passed away in May 2021 at the age of 91. We are honored that she decided to share her story on camera in CURED. Watch a short segment about Kay on the TODAY show here: https://www.today.com/video/gay-rights-pioneer-kay-tobin-lahusen-dies-at-91-114396229914. Read more about Kay’s remarkable life here: https://www.inquirer.com/obituaries/kay-lahusen-gay-rights-lgbtq-gittings-obit-20210528.html

Kay Lahusen

Photographer & Activist

Kay Lahusen (1930–2021), Barbara Gittings’ life partner of 46 years,...

Kameny headshot

Dr. Frank Kameny

Position: Astronomer & Activist

Before almost anyone else, Frank Kameny (1925–2011) understood that the gay rights movement had to get the DSM classification changed to achieve progress. A Harvard-trained astronomer, Kameny had been fired by the federal government in 1957 because he was homosexual; that injustice motivated him to advocate for the rights of gay men and lesbians. As head of the Mattachine Society of Washington, DC, he organized early gay rights marches, helped gay people who were targeted by the federal government, and formulated strategy for challenging the APA, consistently pointing out that the mental-illness theory of homosexuality was a belief, not a scientifically proven fact.

Dr. Frank Kameny

Astronomer & Activist

Before almost anyone else, Frank Kameny (1925–2011) understood that the...

Doctor Silverstein headshot

Dr. Charles Silverstein

Position: Psychologist & Activist

Charles Silverstein spent seven years in therapy, hoping to “cure” his attraction to men and thereby safeguard his job as a public-school teacher. He eventually came out and became a gay liberation activist and psychologist. After participating in a “zap” at a 1972 New York meeting of psychiatrists, Silverstein was invited to make a case for changing the DSM to the APA’s Nomenclature Committee, the body that decides what’s in the manual. The following summer, he and Ron Gold were featured in a 60 Minutes segment that brought wide public attention to the “civil war” that had erupted within the APA over the question of homosexuality.

Dr. Charles Silverstein

Psychologist & Activist

Charles Silverstein spent seven years in therapy, hoping to “cure”...

Doctor Fryer wearing a mask

Dr. John Fryer

Position: “Dr. Anonymous”

John Fryer (1937–2003), a Philadelphia psychiatrist, played a pivotal role in the DSM fight during a dramatic speech at the 1972 APA convention in Dallas. Wearing an oversized tuxedo, a distorted Richard Nixon mask and using a voice-altering microphone, “Dr. H. Anonymous” stunned his colleagues by describing his tormented experiences as a closeted gay psychiatrist. The speech by Dr. Anonymous — which began with the words, “I am a homosexual. I am a psychiatrist” — marked a turning point in this fight because, for the first time, APA members heard a personal story from a colleague who was both gay and a practicing psychiatrist.

Dr. John Fryer

“Dr. Anonymous”

John Fryer (1937–2003), a Philadelphia psychiatrist, played a pivotal role...

Rev. Kennedy sitting in her living room

Rev. Magora Kennedy

Position: Reverend & Activist

In the early 1950s, when Magora Kennedy’s mother discovered that her daughter was interested in girls, she offered Magora a stark choice: Get married or be institutionalized at the mental hospital in Utica, New York. Kennedy chose to get married — at age 14. She eventually came out and got involved in the Gay Liberation movement. In 1971, she appeared on The David Susskind Show, arguing that the medical establishment “had made a mistake” with its mental-illness label and asking Susskind: “Does it make you feel good to say we are sick?” Rev. Kennedy is one of 12 LGBT elders featured in “Not Another Second,” a powerful new photography exhibition that chronicles the decades lost by lesbians and gay men as a result of societal prejudice and homophobia.

Rev. Magora Kennedy

Reverend & Activist

In the early 1950s, when Magora Kennedy’s mother discovered that...

Dr. Lawrence Hartmann

Position: Psychiatrist & Reformer

In the early 70s, Lawrence Hartmann — a young, closeted gay psychiatrist — teamed up with other young reformers to push for change in the APA. Convinced that the national APA board needed to see support from local APA branches, Hartmann pushed the northern New England branch of the APA to pass a resolution in the spring of 1973 calling for a change to the DSM. The APA’s national Assembly narrowly passed the same resolution in November 1973, providing vital momentum for the DSM change. Hartmann went on to serve as the APA’s president in 1991–92.

Dr. Lawrence Hartmann

Psychiatrist & Reformer

In the early 70s, Lawrence Hartmann — a young, closeted...

Ron Gold headshot

Ron Gold

Position: Journalist & Activist

Ron Gold (1930–2017) participated in an interview for CURED shortly before his death, at the age of 86. He talked about the profound impact the mental-illness label had on gay and lesbian people of his generation: “Even I — who really was not a closeted gay person ever — had this feeling that if someone was in love with me, they must be as sick as I am.” A former journalist, Gold got involved in the gay liberation movement in the early 70s. At the 1973 APA convention, he participated in a panel discussion to debate the pros and cons of changing the DSM. Gold didn’t hold back his criticism of psychiatry, even titling his speech, “Stop it, you’re making me sick!”

Ron Gold

Journalist & Activist

Ron Gold (1930–2017) participated in an interview for CURED shortly...

Doctor Green sitting in his living room

Dr. Richard Green

Position: Psychiatrist & Ally

Richard Green (1936–2019) was one of the first straight psychiatrists to speak out publicly in favor of removing homosexuality from the DSM. He ignored the advice of his mentor and published a groundbreaking paper in 1972 that argued the mental-illness designation wasn’t grounded in science: “What I question in this essay,” Green wrote, “is the given state of ‘knowledge’ that homosexuality is, by definition, a ‘disorder,’ a ‘disease,’ or an ‘illness.’ I’m not convinced we have the data by which to base these judgments. I question them because they’re not proved.”

Dr. Richard Green

Psychiatrist & Ally

Richard Green (1936–2019) was one of the first straight psychiatrists...

Doctor Socarides headshot

Dr. Charles Socarides

Position: Psychiatrist & Opponent of DSM Change

Charles Socarides (1922–2005) was a Columbia University-educated psychiatrist who spent five decades trying to “cure” gay men and lesbians. He was the main force working to oppose the DSM change. In a 1973 television interview, he argued that “normalizing” homosexuality by removing it from the DSM would “produce a situation in which men and women will fly away from each other… I think if one person gives up hope and puts a bullet in his head because he feels there’s no hope, and even psychiatrists do not offer him this help because after all, it’s actually been deleted from the nomenclature — I think this is the primary thing that we, as psychoanalysts, are interested in.”

Dr. Charles Socarides

Psychiatrist & Opponent of DSM Change

Charles Socarides (1922–2005) was a Columbia University-educated psychiatrist who spent...

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