Making Gay History | LGBTQ Oral Histories from the Archive

Eric Marcus

Intimate, personal portraits of both known and long-forgotten champions, heroes, and witnesses to history brought to you from rare archival interviews. read less

Season 13

Dismantling a Diagnosis: Episode 2: The Cure
Dec 22 2023
Dismantling a Diagnosis: Episode 2: The Cure
A half-century ago, millions of homosexuals were cured with the stroke of a pen when the American Psychiatric Association decided to change its diagnostic manual and remove homosexuality from the list of mental disorders.  In this episode, we journey through several milestones in the battle for gay liberation and acceptance as we focus on how the field of psychiatry defined, and distorted, what it meant to be homosexual. Homosexuality was officially classified as a mental disorder in the 1952 edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, but the narrative that equated being gay with being mentally ill had been emerging for decades. The nascent gay rights movement in the 1950s was caught between believing the sickness narrative and seeking treatment, and questioning the diagnosis and using their own voices to fight back. A groundbreaking 1956 study by psychologist Dr. Evelyn Hooker debunked the notion that gay men were, by default, mentally ill, and even though societal pressures dissuaded Dr. Hooker from extending her study to lesbians, her research gave activists a foundation to advance the discourse. The years that followed brought continued campaigning by gay activists, and with the help of enlightened psychiatrists who became allies and closeted gay psychiatrists who had the courage to speak out, 1973 brought victory. The APA overturned its classification, effectively “curing” millions of homosexuals overnight. Visit our episode webpage for additional resources and a transcript of the episode. For exclusive Making Gay History bonus content, join our Patreon community. ——— To learn more about listener data and our privacy practices visit: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

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