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Association of Gay and Lesbian Psychiatrists, APA to honor Gay advocates Barbara Gittings and Frank Kameny
Association of Gay and Lesbian Psychiatrists, APA to honor Gay advocates Barbara Gittings and Frank Kameny
The Association of Gay and Lesbian Psychiatrists (AGLP) and the American Psychiatric Association (APA) will honor Barbara Gittings and Frank Kameny in New York on Saturday, October 7, 2006. Over the past year, AGLP successfully raised $50,000 to endow the John E. Fryer, M.D., Award, for a public figure who has made significant contributions to LGBT mental health. Dr. Fryer was known as "Dr. H. Anonymous" when he gave a courageous speech at the 1972 American Psychiatric Association (APA) annual meeting, an important spur in the process leading to the declassification of homosexuality as a mental illness. Barbara Gittings and Franklin Kameny, Ph.D., were on the same panel as Dr. Fryer in 1972, and will be the first recipients of this award. ( A copy of a photo of this panel is included.) To honor the new award, the Institute on Psychiatric Services (IPS), the fall meeting of the American Psychiatric Association (APA), will feature a day of programming focusing on LGBT mental health.

Dr. Frank Kameny and Barbara Gittings are lifelong activists and founding members of the modern Gay rights movement. Both were instrumental in raising issues which eventually led APA to remove the diagnosis of homosexuality from the DSM-II in 1973.

Frank Kameny had a PhD in Astronomy and was fired from a US civil service position in 1957 when it was discovered that he was Gay. He was barred from future government employment. In 1961, he was one of the founders of the Washington DC Mattachine Society, a group organized to support Gay and Lesbian civil rights.

Barbara Gittings, in 1958, established the first East Coast chapter of the first Lesbian civil rights organization in the United States: the Daughters of Bilitis. In the mid-1960s she edited DOB's national magazine, The Ladder: A Lesbian Review.

Both Gittings and Kameny were openly Gay at a time when sodomy laws made homosexuality illegal in all of the US.

Between 1970 and 1973, Kameny and Gittings put pressure on the American Psychiatric Association through protests, display booths, and presentations, to recognize the body of psychological evidence that pointed to homosexuality being a normal variation of human sexuality and not an illness. The 1972 APA panel featuring Kameny, Gittings, and Dr. H. Anonymous was a critical moment in a three-year process that eventually led the APA Board of Trustees to vote to delete homosexuality from the DSM in 1973.

Kameny and Gittings have continued to work for equal rights for Gay and Lesbian people. Kameny eventually won an important legal victory against the US Civil Service, securing a policy of nondiscrimination that vindicated his own firing years earlier. Barbara Gittings worked tirelessly with the American Library Association for decades, helping improve access to Gay and Lesbian literature for readers across the country. Both continue to write and lecture on the continued need to advocate for full equality for Gay and Lesbian people.

Beginning with this year's presentation, The John E. Fryer, M.D. Award will be given annually to a public figure who has made significant contributions to LGBT mental health. Besides a stipend and award plaque, the award features a lecture at one of the American Psychiatric Association conventions. This award will honor the people who have helped improve the lives of LGBT people, and will ensure that LGBT mental health issues remain a core part of the continuing medical education of psychiatrists through their main specialty organization, the APA.

The John E. Fryer, M.D. Award is being made possible in part, by a grant from the Gill Foundation, the nation's largest funder focused on Lesbian and Gay organizations and issues. "As we continue our mission of securing equal opportunity for all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender expression, we are proud to support such a worthwhile organization and its important work," said Rick Jung, National Senior Program Officer for the Gill Foundation.

The Association of Gay and Lesbian Psychiatrists (AGLP) is a community of psychiatrists that educates and advocates on LGBT mental health issues. AGLP is made up of 600 LGBT psychiatrists and supporters around the U.S. AGLP's educational efforts have included consultation and collaboration with the APA, educational meetings, the Journal of Gay and Lesbian Psychotherapy. AGLP's web site (www.aglp.org) provides fact sheets on pedophilia and its mistaken association with homosexuality, suicide risk in LGBT youth, an online referral service, and bibliographies on Gay parenting and Gay-affirmative therapy.

The 2006 Fryer Award Lecture is entitled, "Gay, Proud, and Healthy: From Heresy to Humdrum", featuring Dr. Kameny and Ms. Gittings. Other presentations from the daylong LGBT series at the fall APA meeting will include a screening of the documentary, "Abomination: Homosexuality and the Ex-Gay Movement." All programming will be at the Marriott Marquis in New York (www.aglp.org or www.psych.org for more information and registration).



A AGLP press release

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