Barbara Gittings, Frank Kameny, John E. Fryer [ ‘Dr. H. Anonymous’ ], on a discussion panel at the annual American Psychiatric Association conference, 1972.
Fryer’s speech has been cited as a key factor in persuading the psychiatric community to remove homosexuality as a mental disorder from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual [DSM].
John E. Fryer, Vanderbilt student photo, September 15, 1957
Vanderbilt Department of Medical Illustration,
“Medical School Student Pictures, 1957: J.E. Fryer,”
VUMC Through Time, accessed July 12, 2014
Eskind Biomedical Library Special Collections
Fifteen years later, would give a speech at the American Psychiatric Association annual conference, as Dr. H. Anonymous, which began: “I am a homosexual. I am a psychiatrist…”
The sickness label was an albatross around the neck of our early gay rights groups — it infected all our work on other issues. Anything we said on our behalf could be dismissed as ‘That’s just your sickness talking.’ The sickness label was used to justify discrimination, especially in employment, and especially by our own government.Barbara Gittings
The Vote that ‘Cured’ Millions,
The Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide, July 2007
No Such Thing As Homosexuality Or Heterosexuality
Dr. Lawrence Lamb, MD | July 12, 1973
The Ledger | Lakeland, Florida
Before there was Queer Theory, there was… Dr. Lamb…
“Dr. Lamb is a board-certified internist and cardiologist and an established writer on medical subjects.”
An interesting insight into the thoughts of the early seventies on the origins of homosexuality, as offered by Dr. Lamb in his ‘Dear Abby’-esque column.
This was written the year prior to official removal of homosexuality as a mental disorder from the DSM [Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders]. Cardiologist, Lamb begins:
“There is no such thing as a homosexual, a heterosexual or a unisexual… [ paraphrase: there are only hetero- homo- uni-sexual acts ] …Labels can do great harm and often are completely wrong.
Great… boo, labels… though the language reeks of the ‘love the sinner, not the sin’ variety.
The remaining twelve paragraphs outline the gamut of theories — from emotional immaturity, ‘it’s a phase’, ‘it’s a normal part of growing up’, a hormonal imbalance, social isolation and lack of ‘heterosexual opportunities, as in prison’ — and mentions Kinsey, to state in a manner ‘you’re not alone’.
Two tidbits of interest, while the theories of homo-determination are antiquated, Lamb advises:
…any parent who becomes concerned about whether the child is a homosexual or not should see a psychiatrist, not because the child has a problem but because the parents concerned often do.
Secondly, this article exemplifies the dominance of thought, literature and theory, that is devoted to causation of homosexuality over that of heterosexuality or ‘unisexuality.’
The human impetus to define and label what can be seen as aberrant, the Other, or counter-norm, in order — for those labeling — to find comfort and safety, is an intriguing one.