Pride might be bittersweet this year…
PSYCHIATRIC VIEWS ON THE DAILY NEWS
Recently, my wife and I saw the powerful world premiere of the revised opera “Harvey Milk,” put on by the St. Louis Opera. There also is an earlier movie about his life.
You may recall that Milk was a gay politician in San Francisco. He happened to also instigate the design of the gay rainbow flag for the Pride March there in 1978. In the opera, he is depicted as fighting against both anti-Semitism and homophobia, but was gunned down on November 23, 1978 by his political opponent, Dan White.
Pride Month is now celebrated every June as a tribute to those who were involved in the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York. June 28th has become the Pride Day, celebrated by many communities, as that was the day when the first pride march was held in New York in 1970.
It seems like the word “pride” was chosen as sort of a positive psychological reframing to offset a social history of being closeted for security, shame, and stigma about one’s sexuality. Over time, it has become more broadly applied to the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer) identity.
In the recent issue of TIME, Kristen Arnett, who self-describes as queer, ended her article “The Bittersweet Experience of Celebrating Pride in Florida” with what she thought pride meant1:
“Pride is an embrace. Pride is an action, a verb.
Pride is a commemoration. A celebration. A reckoning. A vow.
That’s what I want for my community. Pride all year long.”
However that pride is defined, it may be in jeopardy in view of the overturn of Roe v. Wade. There are suggestions that gay marriage is at risk, to which I would even wonder if their now common practice of having and adopting children is also at risk, even though the data supports the quality of their parenting.
On the other hand, I hardly ever hear the word pride applied in psychiatry. Certainly, given the American Psychiatric Association’s history of having homosexuality as an official diagnostic category for many years does not evoke pride in that history. As I was to learn when I was asked to become Medical Director of a clinic specializing in transgender care in the 1990s, psychiatry also at first tended to apply a misleading etiology of blaming mothers and supporting opposition to gender reassignment. It was also classified as a DSM-5 disorder at first, and still continues in its “dystonic” version.
Thankfully, organized psychiatry eventually seemed to learn some lessons on erroneous psycho-pathologizing. We can take some pride when we admit and learn from our mistakes, but should also be in the vanguard of the current societal LGBTQ challenges.
Dr Moffic is an award-winning psychiatrist who has specialized in the cultural and ethical aspects of psychiatry. A prolific writer and speaker, he received the one-time designation of Hero of Public Psychiatry from the Assembly of the American Psychiatric Association in 2002. He is an advocate for mental health issues related to climate instability, burnout, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism for a better world. He serves on the Editorial Board of Psychiatric Times™.
1. Arnett K. The bittersweet experience of celebrating Pride in Florida. TIME. June 23, 2022. Accessed June 28, 2022. https://time.com/6172365/pride-florida-2022-kristen-arnett/