SINCE THE EMERGENCE OF psychology as a discipline in the late 1800s, psychologists have debated whether to view homosexuality and gender nonconformity as mental illnesses. In 1952, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) listed homosexuality in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, giving official sanction to efforts among many mental health professionals to find a cure. In 1957, psychologist Eveyln Hooker published “The Adjustment of the Male Overt Homosexual” which postulated that homosexuality was not an illness but a variant in sexual pattern well within the normal range of human behavior.
Activist Frank Kameny ignited the movement to remove the APA’s listing of homosexuality as a mental illness in the mid-1960s. By the late 1960s, radical activists had taken up the fight and were coordinating zaps and protests at APA meetings and against prominent psychiatrists and psychologists across the United States. The combination of these protests with behind-the-scenes negotiations, culminated in the landmark 1973 removal of homosexuality as a mental illness from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
The LGBTQ community’s long history of mistreatment at the hands of medical and mental health establishments led to the development of LGBTQ-controlled health service providers. The Homophile Community Health Services Center in Boston opened in 1971 as the first legally incorporated, LGBTQ-staffed medical group to cater to LGBTQ people. The Los Angeles Gay Community Services Center opened later in the year, providing social programs as well as medical and mental health services. As the community center template spread, over 130 LGBTQ community-services institutions emerged across the nation. The centers provide a variety of local services, including legal, social, cultural, and educational services with programs for homeless people, youth, families, and seniors.