Gay Love on Display: Taking on the APA



Curated by Alina Josan

From 1953 until 1973, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) classified homosexuality as a mental disorder, a disease that doctors could treat. Gay activists like Barbara Gittings and Frank Kameny first challenged this medical definition of homosexuality as illness through actions such as petitions, lectures, and appearances on television talk shows. In 1970, they moved on to spontaneous demonstrations, or "zaps," at the APA conference, and in subsequent years Gittings and Kameny became the first gay people to have a voice in official APA panel discussions.

Between 1972 and 1978, Gittings, Kameny, and Gittings’ partner Kay Lahusen created three informational display booths for national meetings of the APA. Portions of these confrontational booths, donated to the John J. Wilcox, Jr. Archives of the William Way LGBT Community Center by Kay Lahusen, have been restored and are presented together for the first time as part of an exhibit called “Gay Love on Display: Taking on the A.P.A.”