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The Daily Agenda for Friday, September 2

Jim Burroway

September 2nd, 2011

TODAY’S AGENDA:

Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Atlanta, Ga (Black Pride); Calgary, AB; Cardiff, Wales; Duluth, MN; Essex, UK; Québec City, QC; Leicester, UK; Oakland, CA; Reading, UK and Scarborough, UK.

Also This Weekend: Burning Man, Black Rock Desert, NV and Southern Decadence, New Orleans, LA.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Evelyn Hooker: 1907. Dr. Hooker, the ppsychologist who is widely credited for establishing that gay people are not inherently mentally ill, knew what it meant to overcome long odds. Born the sixth of nine children in North Platte, Nebraska, she had to overcome uncountable barriers to women in academia and psychology throughout the first half of the 20th century. In 1942 while a teacher at UCLA, one of her students introduced her to other members of the gay community and challenged her to study “people like him” — homosexuals who were neither 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, would 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 became convinced that not only were most gay men socially well-adjusted, and by 1953  — at the peak of the McCarthy period — she decided that this could be proven through psychological testing.

For her groundbreaking study, she gathered two groups of men. The first were members of the local Mattachine Society, and the second were heterosexual men. She administered three sets of psychological tests, and presented the 60 unmarked sets of data to a team of three expert evaluators. The evaluators were unable to tell the difference between the members of the two groups. When her paper “The adjustment of the male overt homosexual” appeared in the March 1957 edition of the Journal of Projective Techniques and Personality Assessment, 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 nonimprisoned, nonpatient homosexuals. Bur for the first time, Hooker’s peer-reviewed study would prove that there were well-adjusted, normal and healthy gay men — and lots of them. Nevertheless, it would take another decade and a half of many more studies replicating her findings before the American Psychiatric Association would finally remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders.

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.” She died in 1996.

If you know of something that belongs on the agenda, please send it here. PLEASE, don’t forget to include the basics: who, what, when, where, and URL (if available).

Comments

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Timothy (TRiG)
September 2nd, 2011 | LINK

I want to know more about that student, who sounds rather brave!

TRiG.

Soren456
September 2nd, 2011 | LINK

Before Hooker, the public knew homosexual people only through police reports, psychiatric records, and gigglers like Liberace.

Hooker created the solid modern foundation of simple normalcy, unmarked by special pleading, on which almost everything we have today is built.

She deserves far more recognition than she gets.

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