Controversy Feed

Pondering the Treatment Link Between ADHD & Homosexuality

Ritalin AdderallIn an opinion piece that ran in the "Sunday Review" section of the New York Times on Nov. 3, Richard A. Friedman, professor of clinical psychiatry/director of pharmacology at Weill Cornell Medical College wrote that he was in favor of not treating ADHD with prescription medications like Ritalin or Adderall.  He argued that many of the children diagnosed with hyperactive disorder are naturally hard-wired for excitement or novelty seeking and aren't getting sufficient stimulation at school or home.  He posited that these kids aren't defective; rather, they just happen to possess behavioral traits that don't match the expectations of contemporary culture.  Long ago their hyperactivity would have given them a distinct advantage in societies that prized hunting and constant physical activity. 


ElectroshocktherapyThe Times article continued that nearly 11% of kids between the ages of 4 and 17 are now diagnosed with hyperactivity disorder at some point in their lives.  This got me thinking about how medical solutions were also once sought to treat homosexuality.  Fortunately there were medical professionals similar to professor Friedman who came to our defense, claiming that just because homosexuals didn't conform to the norms of society didn't mean they were defective.  In other words, even if it wasn't very prevalent, homosexuality is a naturally occurring phenomenon.  And their outlier status was the reason some societies held homosexual individuals in high regard, anointing them as healers or shamans.


Ritalin2Although stories abound about homosexuals undergoing lobotomies, electroshock, even castration, these widespread medical solutions weren't instituted.  With hyperactive children, however, it's a different story since they're too young to push back if their parents decide to go the pharmaceutical route.  Parents who don't want their children running around uncontrolled brings to mind those individuals, even today, who frown on sashaying, flamboyant homosexuals.






Anita Bryant's Anti-Gay Crusade Turns Back Gay Rights in Florida (June 7, 1977)

Anitabryant_newsweek Anita Bryant made her name as a singer of easy listening music (Paper Roses was her big hit), but she was probably most famous as the spokesperson for the Florida Orange Growers Association (she sang the National Anthem at the 1969 Super Bowl in Miami).  However, she became notorious in 1977 when she spearheaded a campaign that was successful in getting voters to repeal a law protecting gay residents of Dade County from job and housing discrimination.  This contentious referendum, which took place on June 7, received national attention. 


I'll never forget reading the following passage from an article in TIME Magazine reporting on the heated campaign:

Bryant told one interviewer that God does not like homosexuals because "the male homosexual eats another man's sperm.  Sperm is the most concentrated form of blood.  The homosexual is eating life".  During a debate with Gay Rights Activist Bob Kunst she startled the audience by breaking into a stirring rendition of Battle Hymn of the Republic. 


Although a stinging blow to the gay community, it was the first time gay men and lesbians actively fought to keep their rights.  And the following year, led by Harvey Milk, gays in California successfully fought back the Briggs Initiative, a proposed law that would have banned gay men and lesbians from being teachers in the state. 



The First "Gay Day" Held at Disney World (June 1, 1991)

GaydaysIn an audacious display of visibility, 3,000 gay and lesbian Floridians converged on Orlando's unsuspecting Disney World on Saturday, June 1, 1991 to enjoy the rides and attractions with their friends - just like everyone else.  This "Gay Day" meet-up has continued on the first Saturday in June ever since - and expanded in a big way.


Gay_mickeyTo make the gay attendees recognizable to each other, they were instructed to wear red-colored shirts - ironically, years before the color became linked with the Republican party.  Today the celebration now encompasses nearly a week of festivities, and all four Disney theme parks in Orlando participate as well as Universal Studio's complex.  The number of attendees now approaches 150,000.  Additionally, Anaheim and Las Vegas also have their own Gay Days events.


Gaydays_redshirtsLike the first Gay Day, this popular gathering still isn't an official Disney event and the company doesn't publicize it, instructing employees to treat it like any other day.  As a result, unsuspecting heterosexual families are still taken by surprise and don't always take kindly to this "flash mob" incursion, reacting with shock and anger that their weekend has been ruined.  (If they ask for their money back, Disney accommodates them.)    


Out_at_ballgame_nymetsThat first Gay Day was an early instance of prying open the eyes of the general public through visibility, which was anathema to the anti-gay religious right.  Since then we've become visible in most walks of life, e.g. portrayed on TV shows and commercials; voted into Congress; participating in the Olympics; working as successful business executives; and now the NBA and NFL each have an openly gay player.  And more than half of Major League Baseball's teams recognize their gay fan base by sponsoring LGBT nights.  (A gay male couple was even shown smooching on Kiss Cam at the Giants game in, where else, San Francisco!) 


First Same-Sex Marriages In U.S. Begin in Massachusetts (May 17, 2004)

Samesexmarriage The first same-sex marriages in the US took place in Massachusetts on May 17, 2004.  This was six months after the state's Supreme Court ruled that a ban on such unions was unconstitutional.  Since then, thirty-six other states and Washington, DC have also made gay marriage legal.  (The Netherlands was the first country to legalize gay unions in 2001.)  Many of these states came on board after the Supreme Court struck down the 1996's Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in June 2013.  Its ruling made federal marriage benefits available to married same-sex couples throughout the nation - even if couples lived in states that didn't allow gay marriage.    


Prop8 For three months in 2008, the state of California also allowed same-sex marriages, until voters narrowly voted against them later that year.  However, any marriages that were performed in those months are still valid.  In August 2010 a Federal District Court in San Francisco overturned Proposition 8 but resumption of marriages was put on hold until the US Supreme Court overturned Prop 8 in June 2013 (when it also overturned DOMA). 


Samesexmarriage_massachusetts The latest marriage figures for Massachusetts (from a Pew Research study) are through 2013 and they show that nearly 27,000 same-sex couples had gotten hitched there, the most of any state.  In 2014 the US Census Bureau for the first time released figures on married same-sex couples.  and these figures showed that, nationwide, there were 252,000 legally married same-sex couples.  And a Gallup survey conducted in the first quarter of 2015 estimated that there were 390,000 such couples.       


Oprah Winfrey Gets the Low Down on the "Down Low" (April 16, 2004)

Down_low_oprah The phrase "on the down low", or the DL, refers to men of color who, while not identifying themselves as being gay, have furtive sex with other men.  This urban slang was picked up by the media at the turn of the 21st century and it picked up steam a few years later with articles in TIME, The Village Voice and the New York Times Magazine.  Then Oprah introduced it to her viewers during an episode of her show that aired on April 14, 2004.  



Downlow.hip-hopOf course, while the DL may be a black construct, men with wives and girlfriends who sneak off to have sex with other men is hardly limited to blacks.  It's been explained that the term was coined because of an aversion many black men have to being labeled as gay.  (Based on the black men I've known, it's quite a generalization.)  Apparently, in the minds of these men, having sex with a man isn't the same thing as being gay, which they equate with being effeminate.  (I wonder if a similar term has been coined in Arabic for Muslim men?)   



Grindr_logo Today, thanks to online chat rooms and the iPad app Grindr, sneaking off for a quickie has never been easier or more tempting.  (Fooling around in the steam room at the gym is so 20th century.)  Because of these new means of communication, wives and girlfriends would surely be freaked if they knew the extent to which husbands and boyfriends play around with other men before work, during lunch and after work.  



Gay_newyork_george_chauncey However, it's hardly a new phenomenon.  In the book Gay Manhattan, which talks of gay life in the first half of the 20th century, author George Chauncey revealed that it wasn't uncommon for a straight blue collar guy to have a gay acquaintance on the side to get him off (without reciprocation) whenever their wives weren't able to provide for all their sexual needs. 




Billionaire Malcolm Forbes Outed by Outweek Magazine (March 11, 1990)

Malcolm_forbesBesides his financial acumen, high-profile billionaire Malcolm Forbes was also well known for his hobbies of motorcycling and hot air ballooning, as well as his much publicized friendship with Elizabeth Taylor.  He died on February 24, 1990 at the age of 70, and two weeks later the fledgling weekly gay magazine Outweek ran a cover story outing him (cover date of March 18).  It was written by gay journalist, and rabble-rouser, Michelangelo Signorile.  (Although the cause of Forbes' death is listed as "heart attack", it is rumored that he actually committed suicide upon learning that he was HIV-positive.)




OutingThe story about Forbes was actually just part of the story as the thrust of the article was about the double standard used by the media when it came to reporting on the private lives of closeted gays and heterosexuals.  The act of "outing" was controversial not only with the general public but within the gay community as well.  Because of its potential negative ramifications a debate raged about how ethical it was to reveal a person's sexual orientaiton before they were prepared to do so themselves.  Twenty years later it seems to be reserved mostly for closeted politicians who support anti-gay legislation. 


Outweek_final_issueOutweek_first_issueAs for Outweek it lasted for just two years.  Both its first (near right) and last issue (far right) were published during Gay Pride Week.

"Lesbian Kiss" Episode Airs on "Roseanne" (March 1, 1994)

Roseanne_lesbian_kissIn November 1992, during ABC sitcom Roseanne's fifth season, Sandra Bernhard's character Nancy was introduced as the first regularly occurring lesbian character in a TV show.  Sixteen months later on March 1, 1994 (at the end of Nielsen's February ratings "sweeps") Nancy's girlfriend Sharon, played by Mariel Hemingway, kissed Roseanne at a lesbian bar.  Roseanne went to Lanford's bar "Lips" to prove how "cool" she was; however, she became unnerved by this five-second kiss and realized that perhaps she wasn't as "hip" as she thought.  (Hemingway had also portrayed a lesbian in the 1982 movie Personal Best.)     







Reviewing the Year in Gay History: 2013



Jan 1 - The first same-sex marriages take place in Maryland.

Jan 13 - At the Golden Globes, Jodie Foster sorta/kinda comes out while accepting a lifetime achievement award.




Jan 15 - 80-year old actor/singer Jim Nabors, most famous for playing the title role in the 1960's CBS sitcom, Gomer Pyle, marries his partner of 38 years in Seattle.

Jan 21 - In his inaugural address, President Obama makes a reference to Stonewall and is the first president to mention gay rights in an inaugural address.




Feb 3 - Hungarian-born, gay porn superstar Arpad Miklos is found dead in his Manhattan apartment, apparently the victim of a suicide.  He was just 45 years old.




Feb 20 - In a new TV commercial for the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite, a woman reading at the beach informs a man, whom she thinks is flirting with her, that her husband is at the bar getting her a drink.  The fellow then replies that his husband is at the bar as well!




Feb 24 - The Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles appears very briefly during the opening of tonight's Academy Awards telecast, joining host Seth MacFarlane in a song called I Saw Your Boobs

Feb 25 - Gay divorce is the cover story of this week's issue of New York Magazine (cover date 3/4).




March 6 - Mexico's Supreme Court rules that anti-gay expressions like 'maricon' are not protected under the constitution's Freedom of Expression.

March 15 - In a blow to the Republican party's anti-gay platform, Republican senator Rob Portman of Ohio reverses his stand against same-sex marriage in support of his gay son.

April 6 - Liza Minnelli makes a guest appearance as herself on tonight's episode of Smash.




April 17 - New Zealand becomes the 13th nation to legalize same-sex marriage.

April 29 - NBA veteran Jason Collins becomes the first active player of one of the Big Four sports leagues to come out.  He did it in an interview in Sports Illustrated, which hit newsstands today.




May 2 - Rhode Island becomes the 10th state to legalize same-sex marriage.

May 7 - Less than a week after Rhode Island, Delaware's governor signs into law legislation legalizing same-sex marriage there. 

May 7 - Famed club DJ and music producer, Peter Rauhofer, dies from a brain tumor at the age of 48.




May 10 - Despite sporting the Ryan Murphy pedigree, his NBC sitcom about gay parenting, The New Normal, is cancelled after one season.

May 14 - Minnesota becomes the 12th state to legalize same-sex marriage.  56 million Americans, or 18% of the US population, now live in states that allow gay couples to marry.

May 17 - Michael Musto, the Village Voice's iconic entertainment and gossip columnist, is let go by the paper after nearly 30 years.




May 18 - France becomes the 14th nation to legalize same-sex marriage.  With a population of 65 million, it passed South Africa as the most populous country where same-sex couples can marry.

May 18 - On Saturday Night Live, a parody TV commercial airs for "Zanax for Gay Summer Weddings", formulated for heterosexuals attending gay weddings who feel insecure because of how perfect they are.




May 23 - The Boy Scouts of America vote to allow openly gay youths as members, while continuing its policy of excluding openly gay adult leaders. 

May 26 - The TV movie, Behind the Candelabra, airs on HBO.  It looks at the relationship of Liberace (played by Michael Douglas) and his much younger lover, Scott Thorson (played by Matt Damon).

June 3 - The Fosters, a drama about a lesbian couple raising their family of inter-racial children, debuts on ABC Family.

June 20  - Exodus International, a ministry that claimed people could change their sexual orientiation from homosexual to heterosexual through reparative therapy, announces it will shut down after 37 years of operation.  Its president also issues a profuse apology.




June 26 - In two landmark decisions, the U.S. Supreme Court overturns DOMA and also upholds an earlier Circuit court ruling that invalidated Prop 8 in California, thus restoring same-sex marriage in the nation's most populous state.

June 30 - In honor of Gay Pride Day and the legalization of gay marriage in Washington state, the Seattle Mariners become the first Major League Baseball team to fly the rainbow flag at a game.




June 30 - Russian president, Vladimir Putin, signs into law legislation that bans gay "propaganda".

July 1 - This week's issue of the New Yorker celebrates week's Supreme Court regarding same-sex marriage by showing Bert & Ernie on its cover snuggling in front of the TV.  

July 11 - Orange is the New Black, a drama set in a women's prison, debuts on Netflix.




July 17 - With Queen Elizabeth giving her royal stamp of approval to Parliament's legislation, England legalizes same-sex marriage.

July 28 - Just four months into his papacy, Pope Francis makes a surprisingly compassionate comment about gay priests, saying that "If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?" It is also notable that he uses the term "gay" rather than "homosexual".




Aug 2 - Secretary of State John Kerry announces that effectively immediately the US will treat visa applications of married same-sex couples in the same manner as opposite-sex spouses. 

Aug 11 - Chelsea's popular bar Splash closes after nearly 22 years, unable to staunch the flow of patrons to bars and clubs in Hell's Kitchen. 

Aug 28 - The Internal Revenue Service announces that all same-sex couples who are legally married will be recognized as such for federal tax purposes, even if the state where they live doesn't recognize their union.

Sept 2 - In her fifth attempt, 64-year-old lesbian swimmer, Diana Nyad, successfully swims for 53 hours between Havana, Cuba and Key West - without a shark cage.

Sept 22 - For the third time in the past four years openly gay actor Jim Parsons wins the Emmy Award for Best Actor in a Sitcom for his portrayal of lovable science nerd Sheldon on CBS's The Big Bang Theory.

Sept 26 - In its 11th season, CBS's hit sitcom Two and a Half Men replaces its "half man" with the lesbian daughter of one of the Two Men.




Oct 3 - For the first time since co-starring on Will & Grace seven years earlier, Sean Hayes returns to NBC in the sitcom Sean Saves the World, playing a gay man raising his teen daughter.  

Oct 21 - The first gay marriages take place in New Jersey, the 14th state to legalize them.

Oct 25 - The lesbian drama, and winner of the Palme de Or at Cannes, Blue is the Warmest Color, opens in US theaters.  Much attention is given to the NC-17-rated movie's explicit 7-minute sex scene.




Nov 5 - Openly gay Washington state senator Ed Murray is elected mayor of Seattle and delivers his acceptance speech with his husband at his side. 

Nov 20 - Illinois joins 15 other states and DC in legalizing same-sex marriage.

Nov 22 - The movie Philomena opens.  It tells the true story of Philomena Lee, who searched for her son Michael 50 years after she game him up for adoption.  In the course of her search she discovers that he was gay and died of AIDS.

Dec 10 - India's Supreme Court declares homosexual sex illegal, reversing a ruling four years ago that had struck down the ban.  

Dec 19 - To absolutely no one's surprise, figure skating great Brian Boitano, who won a gold medal for the US at the 1988 Winter Olympics, finally came out.  This came two months after he turned 50.




Dec 19 - New Mexico's Supreme Court rules in favor of same-sex marriage, the sixth state to legalize it in 2013 and seventeenth state overall (and DC).


 To read about LGBT milestones from other years, double click here.

Homosexuality Declassified As Mental Illness (December 15, 1973)

Dsm_volumes A landmark event in gay history occurred on December 15, 1973 when the American Psychiatric Association declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder in its Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, aka DSM.  I was 16 at the time and not yet aware of my sexual orientation so I didn't know what it was like to live with this stigma, but it could hardly have been good for self esteem - and probably contributed to mental health problems.  However, despite this step forward society would still find plenty of ways to continue the stigmatization of gay men and lesbians.  But wave upon wave of activism by homosexuals on multiple fronts (assisted by straight supporters) has eroded and broken down a multitude of barriers.


American_psychological_association To appease those in the mental health profession who disagreed with this declassification, a new disorder was classified in 1980 - Ego Dystonic Homosexuality.  Individuals suffering from this disorder were homosexuals who wished their sexual orientation was different (the way some in society still would like us to feel).  It would be de-listed in 1986.


Finally, in 2006 the Pentagon announced that it no longer deemed homosexuality a mental disorder - but it would still be another five years before the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy was ended.


A more comprehensive discussion of this topic can be found at: http://psychology.ucdavis.edu/rainbow/html/facts_mental_health.html  




ACT UP Disrupts Sunday Mass at St. Patrick's (December 10, 1989)




December 1989 was one of the coldest months on record in the New York area.  The month is also remembered for an audacious protest organized by the AIDS activist group ACT UP whereby thousands of its members disrupted Sunday morning Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral on December 10 to protest the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York's stand on sex education and condom distribution in the wake of the AIDS crisis. 


And although this demonstration was perhaps the boldest of any ACT UP protest, others generated considerable publicity as well, e.g. on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange; at the FDA in Washington; at Hearst Publications (protesting an article in Cosmopolitan); at Grand Central Station; and on the sets of CBS Evening News w/Dan Rather and PBS' MacNeil-Lehrer Report.


To learn more about the vital role ACT UP played in the fight for improved healthcare and medications for HIV/AIDS sufferers the book Moving Politics: The Emotion & ACT UP's Fight Against AIDS is a worthwhile read.