Dr. Henry Anonymous (John Fryer)
Presented at the American Psychiatric Association (APA)
125th Annual Meeting, May 2, 1972
Thank you, Dr. Robinson
I am a homosexual. I am a psychiatrist. I, like most of you in this room am a member of the A.P.A., and am proud of that membership. I want to
However, tonight, I am, insofar as it is possible, a we. I attempt tonight to speak for many of my fellow gay members of the A.P.A., as well as for myself When we gather at these conventions, we have somewhat glibly come to call ourselves The Gay P. A. The Gay P.A., and several of us felt feel that it was is time that real flesh and blood stood stand up before our this organization and asked to be heard and listened to and understood, insofar as that is possible
I am in disguise tonight in order that I might speak freely, without conjuring up too much regard on your part about the particular who whom I happen to be. I do that mostly for your own protection. I can assure you that I could be any one of more than 200 psychiatrists registered at this convention, and the curious among you should avoid all risk of paranoia (with the implications suggested by Daniel Shreber and Robert Knight), cease attempting to figure out who I am, and listen to what I say.
We homosexual psychiatrists must persistently must deal with a variety of what I we shall call “nigger” syndromes. And wWe shall describe them some of them and how they make us feel
As psychiatrists who are homosexual, we must know our place and what we must do to be successful. If our goal is high academic appointment, a level of earning capacity equal to our fellows, or admission to a psychoanalytic institute, we must make certain that noone in a position of power is aware of our sexual preference and/or gender identity. Much like the black man with light skin, who chooses to live as a white man, we cannot be seen with our real friends, our real homosexual family, lest our secret be known, and our dooms sealed. There are practicing psychoanalysts among us who completed a training analysts without mentioning their homosexuality to their analyst. Those who are willing to speak out openly will do so only if they have little to lose. [& thus?] they will not be listened to.
As psychiatrists who are homosexual, we must look carefully at the power which lies in our hands
to define the health of others around us. In particular, I we should have clearly in my our minds my our own particular understanding of what it is to be a healthy homosexual in a world which sees that appellation as an impossible anachronism — one cannot be healthy and homosexual, they would say.
One other result of being a psychiatrists who is are homosexual is that I we are required to be more “healthy” than our heterosexual counterparts. We have to make some sort of attempt through therapy or analysis to work our “problem” out, and many of us who make that effort are still left with a sense of failure and persistence of the “problem.” Just as the black man must be a superman, so must we in order to face those among our colleagues who know we are gay.
We could continue to cite examples of this sort of situation for the remainder of the night. It would be useful, however, if we could now look at the reverse. situation What is it like to be a homosexual who is also a psychiatrist? Most of us Gay P.A. members do not wear our badges into the Bayou Landing (a gay bar here in Dallas) or the local canal baths. If we did, we would risk the derision of all the non-psychiatrist homosexuals. There is much negative feeling in the homosexual community towards psychiatrists, and those of us who are available will be are the easiest targets on which the angry can vent their wrath.
Beyond that, in our own home towns, the chances are that in any gathering of homosexuals, there is likely to be
any number of patients or paraprofessional employees who might try to hurt us in the professional and/or larger community, if those communities enable them to hurt us that way.
Finally, as homosexuals who are psychiatrists, we seem to possess a unique ability to marry ourselves to institutions rather than wives or lovers. Many of us work 20 hours daily to protect institutions who would literally spit chew us up and spit us out if they only knew or chose to acknowledge the “truth.”
These are our feelings, and like any set of feelings, they have value only insofar as they move us toward concrete action. Here I would speak primarily to the other members of the Gay P.A. who are present tonight, although all of you are welcome to heed my words. Perhaps you can
help your gay psychiatrist friends understand what I am saying.
When you are with fellow professionals who are denigrating the “faggots,” the “queers,” don’t just stand idly by. Don’t give up your career, either. Show a little creative ingenuity, and make sure that you let your associates know that they have many a few issues which they have to think through again.
When fellow homosexuals come to you for treatment, don’t let your own problems get in your way. Develop creative ways to let the patients know that he’s they’re alright, and then teach him them everything he they needs to know. Refer him them to other sources of information which diff with biases different from your own,
so that the homosexual will freely be able to make his own choices.
Finally, pull your courage up by your bootstraps and discover ways in which you as a homosexual psychiatrists can be appropriately involved in movements which attempt to change the attitudes of both homosexuals and heterosexuals toward homosexuality. For all of us have something to lose. We may not be considered for that professorship, the analyst down the street may stop referring us his overflow, our supervisor may ask us to take a leave of absence. We are taking an even bigger risk, however, in not living fully our humanity, with all of the lessons it has to teach all the other humans around
us This is the greatest loss, our honest humanity, and that loss leads all those others around us to lose that little bit of their humanity as well. For, if they were truly comfortable with their own homosexuality, then they could be comfortable with ours. We must, therefore, use our skills and wisdom to help themselves and us grow to be comfortable with that little piece of humanity called homosexuality.