Why It Gets Better: Gay as a Mental Illness

Sometimes in order to know why its getting better today, we have to look into our yesterdays:

On December 15, 1973, the board of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) announced that it had voted thirteen to zero to remove homosexuality from its list of psychiatric disorders. The declaration was front-page news in The New York Times and in newspapers all across the country. Even to many gay activists, this was startling. Until the mid-1960s, most of them had automatically assumed that homosexuality was a mental illness.

I was twenty-three when the APA announced that decision. Four decades later I still remember it as a moment of supreme empowerment. Perhaps as much as anything else, it was this action by the APA that enabled my generation—and all the generations that have followed—to have a positive self-image that was so different from the one most gay men had before the 1970s. For some, the transformation had arrived even earlier—as soon as the Stonewall riots occurred in June 1969.

“Gay power!” Allen Ginsberg exclaimed the day after the riots. Inside the Stonewall Inn, he discovered, “the guys there were so beautiful—they’ve lost that wounded look that fags all had ten years ago.” Miller had noticed the same thing in the younger generation by 1971: “I’m not sure it’s a full-scale revolution yet,” he wrote, “but there’s been a revolt, and for thousands of young homosexuals, and some not so young, the quiet desperation … is all over. They are neither quiet nor desperate.”

From a beautifully written and touching excerpt from the New York Review of Books

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