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John Fryer, Psychiatry, and the Fight for LGBT Equality

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Introduction

In the history of the fight for LGBT equality, psychiatry has played a central, and fraught, role. For decades, the psychiatric profession officially classified homosexuality as a mental illness. Individuals who sought psychiatric treatment were often counseled to give up their sexual orientation; at the extremes, members of this community were "treated" with lobotomies. For good reason, then, LGBT activists have often imagined psychiatry as the enemy. Users of this website are invited to consider how this narrative changes—and how it stays the same—when examined through the lens of one man: Philadelphia psychiatrist Dr. John Fryer, who was also gay.