Content Warning: homophobia, Q-slur
For years, the LGBTQIA+ community has been fighting back against the accusation that being queer is a mental disorder. They have been fighting this because it’s a ridiculous statement that apparently needs to be clarified.
Up until the year 1974, homosexuality was considered a mental illness according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). The DSM-II classified this under “paraphilia”, which just means an unusual sexual desire. This was originally published back in 1952, so homosexuality would have been greatly misunderstood back then. However, more and more editions of the DSM continued to vaguely classify homosexuality as a mental illness up until 1974. With the gay rights movement starting to pick up momentum in the early 1950’s and the Stonewall Riots in 1969, the societal view on homosexuality was finally beginning to shift. This put pressure on the American Psychiatric Association and they finally decided to declassify being gay as a mental illness.
Even if homosexuality hadn’t ended up being declassified, just like being trans technically hasn’t been, the definitions of being homosexual in the DSM don’t even exactly align with what it’s always like to be gay in the first place. In the DSM-III, homosexuality is given the label “ego-dystonic homosexuality”, and the definition is as follows:
Ego-dystonic sexual orientation is an ego-dystonic mental disorder characterized by having a sexual orientation or an attraction that is at odds with one’s idealized self-image, causing anxiety and a desire to change one’s orientation or become more comfortable with one’s sexual orientation. It describes not innate sexual orientation itself, but a conflict between the sexual orientation one wishes to have and the sexual orientation one actually possesses.
For many people, they don’t feel anxiety to such a degree solely for being gay, unless they come from an abusive, homophobic household that cause them to feel this way about themselves. If that is the case, that’s not a mental illness brought on due to them being gay, that’s trauma. When you respond to this by treating them as if them being homosexual is the problem, help will never be achieved and the diagnosis is absolutely useless.
Even now, after the diagnosis has been removed from the DSM for a whopping 43 years, people still site it in order to say that homosexual people are mentally ill. You can’t site outdated information like that, acting as though that’s the end-all-be-all. Science is constantly evolving; new discoveries are being made as we speak. Siting old medical studies, old diagnoses, old science isn’t good enough if it isn’t still true today (*cough*Patrick Johnston*cough*). (Big trigger warning for abortion and pro-life if you click on that link. It’s unrelated content but I’ve listened to him speak recently and this really stuck out to me and just had to throw it out there).
Besides, when it all comes down to it, why are people so quick to pull the mental illness card when it comes to homosexuality anyway? It isn’t, but people shouldn’t think that once you prove someone is mentally ill, that detracts from their experience or identity at all? Plenty of heterosexual, cisgender people are mentally ill, that doesn’t mean their identities as such as invalid. Some people who identify as heterosexual were actually traumatized into thinking they are due to experiencing conversion therapy. That doesn’t mean I’m going to sit here and tell people that they can’t identify that way because it’s a mental illness stemming from trauma. So why is it so acceptable to do that to the homosexual community, regardless of their mental health?
Thank you so much for reading. I know this post was pretty short, but this was stemmed from some reading I’ve done since having dealt with some very homophobic and transphobic people and I really wanted to get it out there. I hope this post was informative in some way. Please share this if you think more people should read about this be aware of this, and please comment you’re own thoughts. Thank you so much!