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CBS reports - The Homosexuals

Just a mere two years before the Stonewall Riots nn March 7th, 1967 CBS Reports presented an  hour-long broadcast “documentary” related to homosexuality and homosexuals hosted by Mike Wallace called “The Homosexuals”

Taking three years to make principal filming took place starting in the fall of 1964 and continued through early 1965.  Gay men were interviewed in San Francisco, Philadelphia, Charlotte and New York City,  The identities of several of the men were obscured in some fashion, either in shadow or, in one instance, behind a large potted palm tree. Also interviewed were psychiatrist Charles Socarides, who strongly advocated the position that homosexuality is a mental disorder, and fellow psychiatrist Irving Bieber, who shared Socarides’ opinion of homosexuality as pathology. Interspersed with these interview segments was footage, described as being in the cinema verité style, of the inside of a gay bar along with shots of hustlers working a street corner and a teenager being arrested in a public sex sting..

Charles Socarides, said when he was he interviewed  ‘there is no such thing as a happy homosexual’; ‘these homosexuals are by nature unable to form steady relationships, rather their prerogative is a series of one-night-stands and hookups’.  Socarides was one of many professional homophobic bigot psychiatrists of the day who earned virtually their entire living by promoting homophobia. (In a sublime irony of history, Socarides’s son, Richard Socarides, is openly gay; he served as a public policy advisor in the Clinton White House.)

And almost all of  Mike Wallace’s commentary echoed  Socarides disparaging views of  homosexuals.

The average homosexual, if there be such, is promiscuous. He is not interested or capable of a lasting relationship like that of a heterosexual marriage. His sex life, his love life, consists of a series of one–chance encounters at the clubs and bars he inhabits. And even on the streets of the city — the pick-up, the one night stand, these are characteristics of the homosexual relationship.

For his part, anchor Mike Wallace came to regret his participation in “The Homosexuals“. “I should have known better,” he said in 1992. Speaking in 1996, Wallace stated, “That is — God help us — what our understanding was of the homosexual lifestyle a mere twenty-five years ago because nobody was out of the closet and because that’s what we heard from doctors — that’s what Socarides told us, it was a matter of shame.”

LGBT activist Wayne Besen of Truth Wins Out labels the broadcast “the single most destructive hour of anti-gay propaganda in our nation’s history. “ and that “The Homosexuals’ not only had a devastating effect on public opinion at the time but also was a nuclear bomb dropped on the psyches of gay and lesbian Americans, who, prior to this show, had never been represented as a group on national television.”

And most probably the scariest thing is that much of the anti-gay propaganda used in “The Homosexuals” in 1967 is still used today by right-wing extremist “Christians” who seek to harm and destroy the LGBT Community today

“The Homosexuals” is a must watch for anyone interested in LGBT history and equality.

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About the author

Will Kohler has written 6658 articles on this blog.

Will Kohler is a noted LGBT historian, writer, blogger and owner of Back2Stonewall.com. A longtime gay activist, Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced in notable media venues as MSNBC and BBC News, The Washington Post, The Advocate, The Daily Beast, Hollywood Reporter, Raw Story, and The Huffington Post

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