LGBTQ Documentary “Cured” Debuts on PBS’ Independent LensBreaking News
tags: psychology, documentaries, homophobia, LGBTQ history
“Stop It, You’re Making Me Sick.” That was the title of the essay presented by Ronald Gold of the Gay Activists Alliance at the 1972 annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) to convince the organization to remove homosexuality from its nomenclature.
His point was that ever since the APA placed homosexuality at the top of its list of sexual deviation from the 1952 first edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the organization was making every gay person sick from a psychiatric perspective.
The award-winning documentary, Cured chronicles the historic fight to have homosexuality removed from the DSM. The film will open the fall season of Independent Lens on PBS, Monday, October 11, 2021, which is National Coming Out Day. The film will also be available on the PBS Video app.
While the film acknowledges that “it is very hard nowadays to have any awareness of what the world was like for gay people” prior to the 1973 landmark decision to remove homosexuality from the DSM, it attempts to illustrate it with quotes and footage of how things were and the struggle for change. An old newscast from Mike Wallace on CBS News stating, “Two out of three Americans think of homosexuals with disgust” is just one of many examples of how differently gay people were perceived just 50 years ago.
Before the APA finally made the change, the psychiatric establishment deemed homosexuality a condition to be “cured,” and—in addition to intensive talk therapy—members of the LGBTQ community were subjected to cruel treatments including electroconvulsive therapy, aversion therapy, and in extreme cases, castration and lobotomies.
The footage of some of these cures in the film can be so disturbing that PBS has advised viewer discretion. Facing these “cures” and widespread stigma, many gay people were afraid to come out, and the APA’s “scientific” diagnosis was often used to justify discrimination and persecution.