Evelyn Hooker, Frank Kameny, and Depathologizing Homosexuality, 1957–73

in Departing from Deviance

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2001 | ISBN: 9780226530437
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226304458 | DOI:
Evelyn Hooker, Frank Kameny, and Depathologizing Homosexuality, 1957–73

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After several years of heated debate, the board of trustees of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) made a decision to remove homosexuality as a generic category from the organization's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Utilizing traditional scientific methodology, Hooker thus challenged the heretofore untested assumption that homosexuality was pathological. This was a dramatic example of emancipatory science that served as a visible benchmark in the use of scientific research to achieve social justice. This chapter traces the path to normalize homosexuality, beginning with Hooker's influential role and ending with the largely successful campaign against the psychiatric establishment, led by homophile activist Frank Kameny. According to Hooker, homosexual communities, with their own norms of behavior, exerted strong conformity pressures on their members. Homosexuals as out-group members reacted to the cultural pressures of the dominant majority. The homosexual world was made up of many homosexual groups, including cliques in gay bars, street-corner groups, and informal social networks. Hooker's in-depth ethnographic portrayal of the homosexual community in American society was the first published work of its kind in the scientific literature.

Keywords: homosexuality; generic category; American society; Frank Kameny; scientific research

Chapter.  20195 words. 

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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