Saturday, June 22, 2024

This is the film you need to see on National Coming Out Day

NCOD is October 11 and Cured shines a light on pioneering LGBTQ+ activists who fought to remove homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 1873. 

A powerful exploration of a pivotal yet largely unknown chapter in the struggle for LGBTQ+ equality, Patrick Sammon and Bennett Singer’s award-winning documentary Cured shines a light on the campaign that led the American Psychiatric Association (APA) to remove homosexuality from its manual of mental illnesses. 

Praised as “fascinating” by the Hollywood Reporter, “striking” by USA Today, and “astonishingly rich … one of the best documentaries of this or any year” by the British Film Institute, Cured has been screened hundreds of times on PBS, starting on last year’s National Coming Out Day.

This award-winning documentary is now available for rentals and sales to high schools, community colleges, four-year colleges, and universities. Please visit this website for more details about buying or renting the film for use at an educational institution. Or you can contact the GOOD DOCS team. If you’re interested in hosting the filmmakers for a speech and screening event, please email the producers

What the film is about

In 1973, the APA made the landmark decision to remove homosexuality from its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which had classified same-sex attraction as a “sociopathic personality disturbance” in its first edition, published in 1952. The psychiatric establishment deemed homosexuality a condition to be “cured,” and—in addition to intensive talk therapy—members of the LGBTQ+ community were subjected to cruel treatments including electroconvulsive therapy, aversion therapy, and in extreme cases, castration and lobotomies. Facing these “cures” and widespread stigma, many gay people were afraid to come out, and the APA’s “scientific” diagnosis was often used to justify discrimination and persecution.

Cured offers viewers an inside look at the inspiring movement behind this momentous 1973 decision to remove the DSM classification and the pioneering activists who took on a formidable institution and, against the odds, emerged victorious. The activists’ mission was not only to overturn the official diagnosis, but to create a meaningful dialogue that would challenge deep-rooted prejudices and transform minds. During these discussions, activists pressed the APA to examine evidence and data, urging psychiatrists to move beyond what activist Dr. Frank Kameny called the “shabby, shoddy, sleazy pseudoscience masquerading as science” that underlay the sickness label for homosexuality.

Cured features rich, newly unearthed archival footage and incisive interviews with the people who experienced these events firsthand, including the pioneering LGBTQ+ activists Ron Gold, Dr. Lawrence Hartmann, Dr. Frank Kameny, Rev. Magora Kennedy, Kay Lahusen, and Dr. Charles Silverstein, among others, as well as allies and opponents within the APA. The filmmakers also interviewed Richard Socarides, an openly gay political commentator and advocate for LGBTQ equality who is the son of Dr. Charles Socarides, the leading proponent of the view that homosexuality is a curable mental illness.

Cured illuminates a pivotal moment in the Gay Liberation movement that transformed not only the LGBTQ+ community, but also the field of psychiatry and the social fabric of America—propelling a revolution that is still reverberating today.

“This was a seminal moment in the fight for LGBTQ equality and a story that had not been told before in film,” says co-director Patrick Sammon. “We put more than five years of research and production work into this project and had the great privilege of interviewing many of the key people who were direct catalysts for this groundbreaking change. Five of our interviewees have passed away, so we see this film as a testament to their courage and persistence.”

Visit here to find out about upcoming screenings or how to request a screening for your workplace or school, or purchase a copy for home viewing.

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Queer Forty Staff

Queer Forty writing staff work hard to bring you all the latest articles to help inspire and inform.

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