Advancing LGBT Civil Rights
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John E. Fryer, M.D. Historic Marker

13th & Locust Streets (map)

John Fryer, M.D., (1937-2003) challenged the designation of homosexuality as a mental illness at the 1972 convention of the American Psychiatric Association (APA). Seated on a panel with the Gay Pioneers Frank Kameny and Barbara Gittings, and disguised as Dr. H. Anonymous, Fryer declared himself a homosexual, a psychiatrist and a member in good standing of the APA. Wearing a mask and using a voice modulator, Fryer insisted that the illness was not homosexuality, but rather the toxic effects of homophobia. He took a considerable risk, even with his identity concealed. Fryer was a psychiatry professor at Temple University School of Medicine. In 1972 he could have lost his medical license for being gay. Compelled by his testimony, the APA created a special committee to investigate the legitimacy of its designation of homosexuality. In 1973 the APA delisted homosexuality as a mental illness. Fryer lived in Philadelphia until his death. In 2006 the APA named an annual civil rights award in his honor.

Additional Information:

Barbara Gittings Bio, LGBT History Month

Frank Kameny Bio, LGBT History Month

John Fryer Bio, LGBT History Month

John Fryer Historic Marker Dedication, Historical Society of Philadelphia

Philadelphia Honors Pioneering Gay Psychiatrist John Fryer, Psychiatric News

Philly Honoring Psychiatrist Who Challenged Designation of Homosexuality as Mental Illness, PhillyVoice

 

 


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