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New Series From ‘Pose’ Creator Steven Canals To Explore Queer History

‘Pose’ creator Steve Canals has announced he is developing a new miniseries, ’81 Words’, exploring the historic effort of a group of gay and lesbian activists who challenged the definition of homosexuality as a mental illness in the 1970s.


As ‘Q Voice News’ reports, in 1973, the American Psychiatric Association rocked the mental health world when it declared homosexuality was not a disease. The psychiatric group made history by simply changing the 81-word definition of sexual deviance.

In 1973, activists Frank Kameny, who identified as gay, and Barbara Gittings, who identified as a lesbian, risked their career and reputation when they started working with GAYPA, a clandestine group of closeted psychiatrists within the American Psychiatric Association, to change the definition of homosexuality from a mental disorder in the DSM, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Previous to their success in having the American Psychiatric Association assert that homosexuality is not a mental illness, the medical establishment considered gays and lesbians sexually deviant and diagnosed them as mentally ill.

Canals will write the script for the drama. It will be based on Alix Spiegel’s award-winning 2002 ‘This American Life’ episode ’81 Words.’


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