Tag Archives: Dr. evelyn Hooker

Gay History Month – October 20: ACT-UP Protests the UN, Dr. Evelyn Hooker, and the First Gay Wedding On TV May Surprise You.

Gay/LGBT History Month - October 20: ACT-UP, Dr. Evelyn Hooker, Jesse Helms and the First Gay Wedding On TV

October 20th.

1958:  Truman Capote’s novella Breakfast at Tiffany’s is published in the November issue of Esquire Magazine. Gay men everywhere begin to name their cat “Cat”.

1969: The National Institutes of Mental Health released a report based on a study led by psychologist Dr. Evelyn Hooker stating that sodomy laws should be repealed.

Evelyn Hooker who applied for a National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) grant to conduct research on “normal homosexuals.” presented the results of her research at the APA’s 1956 Annual Convention in Chicago.  After the NIMH’s report,  Dr. Hooker’s work on the homosexual subculture led to Hooker receiving an award in 1992 for Distinguished Contribution to Psychology in the Public Interest from APA.  In her response to this honor, she shared the award with the gay and lesbian community and expressed pleasure that her research and her “long advocacy of a scientific view of homosexuality” could make their lives and the lives of their families better. She closed her address by reading from a letter she had received from a gay man thanking her for her work and saying, “I think you did it because you knew what love was when you saw it, and you knew that gay love was like all other love.”

1987 : Over fifty ACT-UP members are arrested during an act of civil disobedience protesting President Reagan’s lack of action to the AIDS epidemic.  In another demonstration a few days earlier about 150 people protested across the street from the United Nations building during the UN General Assembly’s first debate on AIDS. The General Assembly resolved to mobilize the entire UN system in the worldwide struggle against AIDS, under the leadership of the World Health Organization. 

1987: The US House of Representatives voted 368-47 to approve an amendment to withhold federal funding from any AIDS education organization which encourages homosexual activity. The senate approved a similar amendment the previous week by a vote of 94-2. It was introduced by Sen. Jesse Helms. / The US House Judiciary Committee voted 21-13 to approve a bill requiring the justice department to collect statistics on hate crimes, including anti-gay violence.

1991:  The first prime-time same-sex wedding on U.S. television – network TV, at that – aired on the Fox sitcom Roc .

The Season One episode “Can’t Help Loving That Man,” focuses on Roc’s uncle (Shaft’s Richard Roundtree) revealing he’s gay and going to marry a man named Chris, and the family’s subsequent struggle to accept his lifestyle, ultimately culminating with Roc (Charles S. Dutton) hosting the ceremony (at that time not legal) in his home. 

1992: The San Diego Police Department announced that it was severing its ties with the Boy Scouts of America due to a local chapter’s dismissal of a gay police officer who was involved with the Explorer program.

1993: Roman Catholic priest Rev Andre Guindon dies of a heart attack at age 60. In his book “The Sexual Creators” he wrote that heterosexuals should look to same-sex couples to learn about tenderness and sharing.  After the release of his book the Vatican demanded that Guindon apologize and bring his teaching more in line with the Catholic Church.   Rev Andre Guindon  never apologized and never changed his progressive teachings.

LGBT Unsung Hero – Dr. Evelyn Hooker Who Disproved The Diagnosis That Gays Are Mentally Ill Diagnosis – Video

Dr. Evelyn Hooker

Psychologist Dr. Evelyn Hooker is widely credited for establishing that gay people not mentally ill at a time when being lesbian or gay could cause arrest, being fired from a job, and being institutionalized in an insane asylum.

In 1942 while a teacher at UCLA, one of her students introduced her to other members of the gay community and then challenged her to a study about “people like him”. Namely homosexuals who weren’t troubled by their homosexuality and who had none of the features commonly associated with mental illness. Among those she came to know was noted author Christopher Isherwood, who rented a guest house from her. “She never treated us like some strange tribe,” he recalled later, “so we told her things we never told anyone before.”

Hooker quickly concluded that most gay men were socially well-adjusted, unlike the gay men characterized during McCarthy’s “lavender scare” period — So Hooker set out to prove her observations through psychological testing.

Hooker gathered two groups of men. The first group of men, made of many members of the local Mattachine Society, and a second group of men which were all heterosexual.

Hooker then administered three sets of psychological tests. The independent evaluators were unable to tell the difference between the members of the two groups. When she presented her paper, “The adjustment of the male overt homosexual“, at the 1956 annual meeting of the American Psychological Association in Chicago her results were met with incredulity. It was a well-established orthodoxy in psychology that all gays were mentally ill, and that the disturbances would have been obvious in the test results. But until Hooker’s study was published, there was no scientific data available about non-imprisoned, non-patient homosexuals. For the first time, Hooker’s peer-reviewed study — it would soon appear in the March 1957 edition of the Journal of Projective Techniques and Personality Assessment – would prove that there were well-adjusted, normal and healthy gay men, and lots of them.

Hooker’s research didn’t stop there.. In 1958 she penned a paper called “Male Homosexuality in the Rorschach” and challenged whether the Rorschach inkblot test could weed out gays from straights as claimed by its backers. In 1959, she published “What Is A Criterion?”, in which she again reiterated that the three most popular tests then in use for personality assessments were incapable of picking gay men out of a crowd. .

Her 1969 paper, “Parental relations and male homosexuality in patient and non-patient samples,” refused the widely accepted claim that parents were the cause of their children’s homosexuality.  That same year, she chaired the National Institute of Mental Health’s Task Force on Homosexuality, which recommended the decriminalization of homosexuality and its removal from the APA’s list of mental disorders. The APA finally acted on that recommendation in 1973, but it would take another thirty years before the U.S. Supreme Court would finally eliminate the remaining sodomy laws across the nation.

Dr. Evelyn hooker retired from her research at UCLA in 1970 at the age of 63 and started a private practice in Santa Monica. Most of her clients were gay men and lesbians

In 1991, the American Psychological Association honored Dr. Hooker with its Award for Distinguished Contribution to Psychology in the Public Interest, saying: “Her research, leadership, mentorship, and tireless advocacy for an accurate scientific view of homosexuality for more than three decades has been an outstanding contribution to psychology in the public interest.”

Hooker was also the subject of the 1992 Academy Award-nominated film Changing Our Minds: The Story of Dr. Evelyn Hooker

Dr. Evelyn Hooker died at her home in Santa Monica, California, in 1996, at the age of 89

We all owe her a debt of gratitude and thanks for her hard work on our behalf..

You can watch a clip of Changing Our Minds: The Story of Dr. Evelyn Hooker below: