While today mental health has been brought out of the shadows in order to give people the benefit of not feeling like outsiders if they suffer from issues related to it. It is now spoken about. I think that is more due to a change in mentality of the population rather than the psychiatric metier. A division of the science world which has not been that open or inviting for many reasons.
This documentary by directors Patrick Sammon and Bennett Singer deals with the dark relationship between homosexuality and psychiatry. Psychiatry has always leaned on its bible; the DSM (Diagnosis and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), has been in existance since 1917 and in 1952 it listed homosexuality as a mental illness. As such it was something which required “treatment”. The kind of treatments were all horrible varying from aversion therapy, electroshock and even lobotomy.
Lasting for two decades, if you were seen or came out as a homosexual then you were designated as a danger to society and someone to be dealt with. Many attempted to stay deep in the closet as a result due to the damaging nature of the treatments. As such you were not able to live a full life. Many were forced to deny who they were, get married to people they did not love or were even attracted to and have families.
The only reason that the DSM removed homosexuality as an illness in 1973 were the protests led by a variety of very brave people. Gay people realized they would not be able to lead lives as heterosexuals could if they did not change things. So they began to disrupt, demonstrate and make their way into positions of power. Trying to change things from within and outside. In creating a dialogue they attempted to engage in a dialogue. Talk about how they were not “sick”; that they just wanted to love who they loved and it did not hurt anyone. That homosexuals were not to be feared. They were just people. Worked hard to convince psychiatrists and others in that world that homosexuality should be removed from the DSM.
Interviews with people involved at this time give you a clear and intimate picture of what was going on during this time. How hard they fought for something which seems like it should have been from the beginning. Having the same rights as everyone else. How homosexuals had to fight like women and people of colour did for their basic human rights.
It is shown to be something that went on across the entire United States during the 60s and early 70s. Mostly black and white archival footage is used to build this part of the story. Protests and speeches are shown.
An important part of LGBTQ activism. Activism which continues today with the fight for true equality continuing. Trans rights, the right to marriage and protection of what they have gained so far. The battle continues.