Psychologist who assisted declassify homosexuality as a mental illness dies at 87 : NPR

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On Wednesday, February 12th, the world bade farewell to a legendary psychologist who fundamentally changed the medical community’s view of homosexuality. John F. Fryer, MD, passed away at 87 years old in Philadelphia.

Dr. Fryer was an advocate for LGBT rights before it achieved widespread acceptance. In 1973, he appeared at a televised press conference in a disguise by wearing a rubber Richard Nixon mask and a surgical gown that called him “Dr. H. Anonymous” so he would not face retribution from his employer, the University of Pennsylvania. It was there he revealed that he himself was a gay man, and made a passionate case to recategorize homosexuality as a normal variant and not a mental disturbance or illness.

A year later, the American Psychiatric Association made history by deleting “homosexuality” from its list of mental illnesses. Without Dr. Fryer’s courage, this monumental decision may have never been made.

In addition to being a major figure in the LGBT community, Fryer was also a respected psychiatrist, professor and author. He graduated from medical school at the University of Pennsylvania and worked as a professor of psychiatry at the university for nearly three decades. In 1997, Fryer was recognized for his LGBTQ activism when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame at the National LGBTQ Task Force.

The trailblazing doctor is remembered for his steadfast commitment to the cause he was fighting for. He once said to the press, “My identity as a doctor is one thing, and my identity as a homosexual is something quite different. That I’m able to stand before you today is an example of just how much progress has been made, but there is still work left to do.”

Dr. John F. Fryer will be missed by many. His contribution to the medical and LGBTQ communities cannot be understated. He leaves behind a legacy of courage that is sure to inspire generations to come.

Charles Silverstein (still left) and his husband or wife of 20 a long time, William Bory, smile at the camera in the 1970s. Silverstein devoted his work to supporting LGBTQ individuals are living with out shame.

Rutgers Oral Historical past Archives

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Rutgers Oral Background Archives

Charles Silverstein (still left) and his spouse of 20 yrs, William Bory, smile at the digicam in the 1970s. Silverstein focused his function to supporting LGBTQ folks dwell devoid of shame.

Rutgers Oral History Archives

Charles Silverstein, a psychologist and therapist who played a important role in finding homosexuality declassified as a mental disease, died Jan. 30 at 87. He experienced lung cancer, according to his executor Aron Berlinger.

“Right before I arrived out, I was not incredibly courageous. When I came out, I came out all the way, not just sexually but politically,” Silverstein informed the Rutgers Oral Historical past Archives in 2019.

The Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies introduced Silverstein’s loss of life on Twitter, describing him as “a hero, an activist, a chief, and a mate” whose “contributions to psychology and the rights of LGBTQ+ people today have been felt all-around the world.”

As a scholar, his very first foray into activism was against the Vietnam War. Just after that, he joined the Homosexual Activists Alliance, which he explained as a radical homosexual business.

Homosexuality was regarded a mental dysfunction and “sexual deviation” in the Diagnostic and Statistical Guide of Mental Conditions (DSM), the authoritative set of mental wellness diagnoses, at the time. Close to the conclusion of his doctoral diploma in social psychology, Silverstein was one of a number of presenters demanding the scientific foundation of the classification in February 1973.

Silverstein wrote a satire of all the organization’s absurd previous diagnoses — like “syphilophobia,” or irrational dread of syphilis.

“At the stop, I reported, these are the blunders that you made before,” and they were being building the exact same mistake once again and essential to accurate it, Silverstein explained to the Rutgers Oral Record Archives in 2019. “It appeared to have amazed them.”

10 months later, the American Psychiatric Association voted to get rid of homosexuality from the DSM’s listing of psychological problems.

Silverstein also played a vital role in altering the field’s check out of conversion remedy. Gerry Davison, a practitioner of conversion treatment, heard a converse Silverstein gave in 1972 towards the exercise. It moved him so deeply that he spoke out towards it on moral — not therapeutic — grounds in 1974 when he was president of the Association for Development of Behavioral Therapies. The two adult men had been good friends at any time because, Silverstein told the Rutgers Oral Historical past Archives.

As a homosexual gentleman who grew up seeking to be “cured,” Silverstein dedicated his life’s function to encouraging LGBTQ men and women live with out disgrace, from his psychotherapy apply to his writing and outside of. He co-authored The Joy of Gay Sex, a controversial reserve with graphic pictures and language that sought to help men who have sexual intercourse with gentlemen navigate and love sexual intercourse.

He also revealed guides to aid mothers and fathers aid their LGBTQ small children, and he wrote a clinical guidebook for psychotherapists managing LGBTQ patients.

Silverstein established Identification House, an LGBTQ peer counseling organization, and the Institute for Human Identity, which gives LGBTQ-affirming psychotherapy and began out with gay and lesbian therapists volunteering their time to see LGBT customers. IHI’s existing government director, Tara Lombardo, unveiled a assertion, expressing, “we definitely stand on his shoulders.”

He is survived by his adopted son.

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