Washington, D.C., Oct. 6, 2021 — “I am a homosexual. I am a psychiatrist.” So began the speech presented by Dr. H. Anonymous (who later revealed himself as Dr. John Fryer) at the 1972 American Psychiatric Association (APA) Annual Meeting held in Dallas, Texas. The story of Dr. Fryer, Barbara Gittings, Frank Kameny, and others who worked together to push the APA to remove homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is being told in a powerful new documentary, CURED. The film will air as the season premiere of Independent Lens on PBS on National Coming Out Day, Monday, Oct. 11.
The documentary, which recently won the American Historical Association’s John E. O’Connor Film Award for best historical documentary of 2021, features interviews with many activists and psychiatrists, among them APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A, and APA Past President (1991-92) Lawrence Hartmann, M.D. Filmmakers Patrick Sammon and Bennett Singer used an array of documents, photos, and artifacts from the APA Foundation’s Melvin Sabshin, M.D. Library and Archives in its production. Upon the conclusion of production, the APA Foundation became a presenting sponsor of the film’s Outreach & Engagement Campaign, amplifying the reach and impact of the documentary in classrooms and communities.
“When I became the first openly gay CEO and Medical Director of the APA in 2013, I walked in the footsteps of activist giants like Dr. Fryer, Barbara Gittings and Frank Kameny,” said Levin. “Seeing their story portrayed in CURED is a testament to the power of our voices, and it’s important in a time where LGBTQ people still face discrimination and bigotry in the United States and all over the world. I hope the examples they set are a beacon for all of those who seek to change the world, and that none of us close our eyes to the ongoing impacts of hatred and prejudice in all its forms.”
“This was a seminal moment in the history of psychiatry and the fight for LGBTQ equality — and a story that had not been told before in film,” says co-director Patrick Sammon. “We put more than five years of research and production work into this film and had the great privilege of interviewing many of the key people who were direct catalysts for this groundbreaking change — both the activists pressing for reform from outside the APA and the psychiatrists pushing for change from inside the organization.”
Adds co-director Bennett Singer: “Even though this is a story from history, its lessons remain profoundly relevant today. This is a film about the process of bringing about lasting, systemic social change. And the fact that the PBS broadcast premiere is happening on National Coming Out Day provides a perfect opportunity to remind that world that for LGBTQ people — including “Dr. Anonymous” — coming out to colleagues and family members represents an incredibly potent form of activism.”
“The APA Foundation is extremely pleased to have supported the film’s Outreach & Engagement Campaign, helping the filmmakers amplify the impact of the documentary. We are delighted PBS will be broadcasting it across the nation,” said APA Foundation Executive Director Rawle Andrews, Jr., Esq. “CURED covers a pivotal moment in APA’s and psychiatry’s history that impacts millions of people’s lives to this day. It’s an important story that must be told to advance our collective work toward a more perfect Union.”
The national PBS broadcast of CURED is scheduled for 10 p.m. ET/9 p.m. CT (check local listings) on Oct. 11. The film will be available to stream for 30 days after the broadcast on PBS.org or the PBS app. Learn more about the documentary here. To participate in the discussion on Twitter during the broadcast, use #CUREDFilmPBS.
Learn more about the history of the APA Board of Trustees' 1973 decision to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder in DSM-III from the APA Foundation Library and Archives.
American Psychiatric Association
The American Psychiatric Association, founded in 1844, is the oldest medical association in the country. The APA is also the largest psychiatric association in the world with more than 37,400 physician members specializing in the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and research of mental illnesses. APA’s vision is to ensure access to quality psychiatric diagnosis and treatment. For more information please visit www.psychiatry.org.