When homosexuality was considered an illness, this late psychologist fought back

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02/08/2023

Dr. Charles Silverstein accomplished a lot in his life. As a psychologist, he used his clinical practice to help LGBTQ patients embrace their identities at a time when conversion therapy was the norm. He authored several books, including For The Ferryman, his 2022 memoir published by ReQueered Tales, and The Joy of Gay Sex, an explicit and illustrated guide to sex, which he co-wrote with Edmund White. The latter, which has spawned several updated editions, was controversial when it came out. It was repeatedly seized, burned, hidden from bookshelves, and outright banned. But perhaps his greatest feat was his speech to the American Psychiatric Association (APA) in 1973, in which he, along with other panellists, argued that homosexuality should not be considered a mental illness. Ten weeks later, the APA removed homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, a guidebook used in the U.S. and Canada to diagnose mental illness.  Silverstein died on Jan. 30 at his New York home from lung cancer, the Washington Post reports. He was 87.

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