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Lesbian, gay, bisexual (LGB) issues

The gay liberation movement during the 1950s

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bulletPrior to 1950, psychologists and psychiatrists had mainly studied gays and lesbians who were either in prison, or in therapy. The typical psychiatric diagnosis was severe and pervasive emotional disorder. Alfred Kinsey published "Sexual Behavior in the Human Male" which revealed that 4% of men identified themselves as exclusively homosexual, and that 37% engaged in same-sex activity to orgasm after puberty.
 
bulletEvelyn Hooker (1907-1996) had the novel idea to compare a group of non-clinical gay males with a comparable group of heterosexual males. She:
"...published the first empirical research to challenge the prevailing psychiatric assumption that homosexuality was a mental illness. Her work was the cornerstone for an entire body of research that ultimately led to removal of 'homosexuality' from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders." 1
Her first report was called "The Adjustment of the Male Overt Homosexual." It showed that "homosexuals were not inherently abnormal and that there was no difference between homosexual and heterosexual men in terms of pathology." More details. She received the 1991 Award for distinguished Psychology in the Public Interest. The citation read, in part:
"Her research, leadership, mentorship, and tireless advocacy for an accurate scientific view of homosexuality for more than three decades has been an outstanding contribution to psychology in the public interest."
bulletIn 1950, the Mattachine Society was formed in Los Angeles to promote LGB issues.
 
bulletIn a 1951 review of existing studies, C.S. Ford and F.A. Beach:
"... found that homosexual behavior was widespread among various nonhuman species and in a large number of human societies. They reported that homosexual behavior of some sort was considered normal and socially acceptable for at least some individuals in 64% of the 76 societies in their sample; in the remaining societies, adult homosexual activity was reported to be totally absent, rare, or carried on only in secrecy." 2
bulletKinsey's book "Sexual Behavior in the Human Female" revealed that 2% of adult women identified themselves as exclusively lesbian, and that 13% of women had engaged in homosexual activities at least once.
 
bulletIn 1956, The North American Conference of Homophile Organizations (NACHO) was organized. By the time of their 1960 meeting in Kansas City, they had become a coalition of about two dozen gay groups. Bob Martin, a delegate from Columbia University said that their activities were organized:
"... much as civil-rights groups worked through the first half of the Sixties: through education, legal action, and voter education, through winning over the straight majority by appealing to their consciences, through building a 'good public image,' through lobbying with Congress and State legislators, through 'respectability." 3
A radical faction surfaced at the 1960 meeting. They called for a change in tactics. Item 4 of their manifesto stated: "Our enemies, an implacable, repressive governmental system; much of organized religion, business and medicine, will not be moved by appeasement or appeals to reason and justice, but only by power and force." Although their manifesto was rejected by the conference delegates, the radicals ultimately succeed. During the 1960s. The existing homophile groups faded away, and the more radical Gay Liberationists grew in strength. The homosexual agenda emerged at this point: -- to gain equal rights for gays and lesbians, and to end special privileges given only to heterosexuals.

References:

  1. "Evelyn Hooker, PhD," at: http://psychology.ucdavis.edu/rainbow/html/hooker.html
  2. Ford, C.S., & Beach, F.A., "Patterns of sexual behavior." Harper & Brothers. (1951). Mentioned in Gregory Herek, "Facts About Homosexuality and Mental Health," at: http://psychology.ucdavis.edu/rainbow/
  3. "Documents from the 1969 furor," at: http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/pwh/1969docs.html

Copyright © 2002 to 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2002-JUL-23
Latest update: 2009-OCT-06
Author: B.A. Robinson

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