Tag Archives: American Psychiatric Association

Hero of the Week Award: May 25, Max Hirsh and the Southern Poverty Law Center

25 May

Hero of the Week

When you go to a professional for care, it’s very hard to deal with a betrayal, much less demand that the professional be held accountable. This week’s hero stood up for himself and found an organization committed to helping him.

Max Hirsh of Eugene, OR, went to a psychiatrist to get help with his depression and his ability to form romantic relationships. He told the doctor that he was gay (he’s 22 and has been out since he was 19) at the beginning of therapy. Over the course of the first few sessions, however, the doctor kept pushing issues like Hirsh’s athletic abilities, his teenage relationships with girls, and how many positive male role models he had in his life. These seemed like distractions to Hirsh, who was stunned when the doctor finally told him, “But you’re heterosexual.”

Realizing that the doctor’s strategy was to change his sexual orientation, a practice known as conversion therapy, Hirsh terminated therapy. After a few weeks of family pressure to continue working on his depression, he returned to the doctor, however, who assured him that he was “fine” with Hirsh being gay. Nevertheless, the stealth conversion therapy continued. Hirsh terminated again and has filed a complaint with the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and the Oregon Psychiatric Association. Helping him with the complaint is the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which has taken a strong stand against anti-gay activity in recent years.

Because the complaint is still under investigation, the doctor’s name has not been disclosed. The APA has stated, however, that they take such charges seriously. Not only would this behavior violate informed consent, the APA came out clearly against conversion therapy in 2009. Christine Sun, deputy legal director at SPLC, wants them to be even firmer, stating,

Our immediate goal is for the APA to take these allegations seriously and ultimately ban conversion therapy by its members.

That’s a goal worth fighting for.  I hope to eventually be able to publish the name of the psychiatrist because he is a danger to the LGBT community.

Hero of the Week Award: October 14, Frank Kameny

14 Oct

Hero of the Week

This past Tuesday, the LGBT community lost one of our fierce pioneers in the Gay Rights Movement.  Frank Kameny dedicated over 50 years of his life fighting for equality for the LGBT community.  He most certainly earns this week’s HWA, if not one of the Heroes of the 20th Century. The phrase Gay is Good was coined by our Frank Kameny.

Kameny suffered greatly during the homophobic McCarthy Era of the 1950s.  Kameny was a government astronomer with a Ph.D from Harvard. He was fired from his federal job in the 50s for being gay.  It was not until 2009 that the US government finally issued Kameny an apology for his being fired (kind of like the Pope offering Galileo an apology in 1985 for his whole whacky heliocentric theory). Unfortunately, there are still many states in the US where one can be fired for being gay. It was Kameny that took the American Psychiatric Association (AMA) to task in the 1960s for classifying homosexuality as a mental disorder.  Finally in 1973 when the AMA acknowledged their mistake and said homosexuality is not a mental disorder, Kameny sarcastically responded, “we were cured en masse by the psychiatrists.”

Then we move on to DADT and the irony that Kameny was a WWII Vet–I wonder how many Republicans would “BOO” him for serving his country in WWII?  Thank goodness DADT has finally been repealed.

What an amazing legacy Frank Kameny has left–a life committed to civil rights.  All of us in the LGBT community are in his debt.

Bigot of the Week Award: July 15

15 Jul

Bigot of the Week

As is typical on Thursday evenings, I find myself with an embarrassing number of candidates for the dubious honor of BWA.  Of course the one that stood out amongst all other bigots this week was Marcus Bachmann.  Bachmann tried to defend his Reparative therapy clinics in an interview with the Star Tribune and tried to justify some of the horrific language he has used in describing the LGBT community; all of this earns him this week’s BWA.

Just to be perfectly clear, both the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association oppose any type of “reparative or conversion” therapy. One might wonder why Marcus Bachmann is consumed with thinking about homosexuality. He and Fred Phelps have a lot in common.  Perhaps Michele needs to be a little worried about how much time her husband thinks about gay sex.  Well, I’m sure there is nothing hiding in his closet and I will leave it at that. Click here to see the full article.


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