Cured: How mental illness was used as a tool against LGBT rights

“In 1952 the APA’s manual had defined being gay as a ‘sociopathic personality disturbance’. It gave a supposedly scientific rationale to prejudices already widespread in the US and elsewhere.”

Vincent Dowd reports for the BBC concerning the documentary film Cured:

Until 1973 the American Psychiatric Association defined being gay as having a mental illness. A new documentary recalls the struggle to change a definition which for years limited the rights of LGBT people in the US. But the film’s makers say the fight for equality was part of a bigger battle which continues today.

The film archive you see in the documentary Cured isn’t a total surprise: being gay was illegal in the US when most of the programmes and public service announcements featured were made. The US’s path to legalising same-sex relationships would be complex, often with variations between the country’s 50 states.

Even so, the prejudices at work in some of the material can be startling.

A police officer was filmed by station WTVJ in South Florida addressing school students in 1966 about the dangers of being near gay people. ‘They can be anywhere,’ he tells them. ‘They can be policemen, they can be schoolteachers. And if we catch you with a homosexual, your parents are going to know about it first…’

The following year an edition of CBS Reports, called The Homosexuals, was probably trying to tackle a controversial topic with an open mind. But reporter Mike Wallace, using the terminology of the time, is repeatedly tripped up by his moralistic commentary …”

You can read more from here.

Note that Cured is available online until Sunday 28 March as part of the BFI Flare LGBTIQ+ Film Festival.

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