Homosexuality was a mental illness to be “cured” until LGBTQ activists fought the Establishment—and won.

Independent Lens
Premiere Date
October 11, 2021
Funding Initiative
Series and Special Projects
Open Call
  • Award laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    2020 Frameline Film Festival-Audience Award, Best Documentary Feature
  • Award laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    2020 NewFest: LGBTQ+ Film and Media | New York-Audience Award, Best Documentary Feature
  • Award laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    2020 ImageOut: The Rochester LGBT Film & Video Festival-Audience Award, Best Documentary Feature
  • Producer/Director

    Bennett Singer

    Bennett Singer has been making social-issue documentaries for more than 25 years. He co-directed Electoral Dysfunction (PBS) and Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin (PBS’ POV) and won a duPont-Columbia Award for his work on Eyes on the Prize II (PBS). He is the former Executive Editor of TIME Magazine’s education program.


    Patrick Sammon

    Patrick Sammon, the President of Story Center Films in Washington, DC, was creator and Executive Producer of Codebreaker, a “superb” (The Telegraph) and “imaginative” (Sunday Times) drama-documentary that “artfully explored” (The Mail) the life of gay British codebreaker Alan Turing. The film attracted more than three million viewers.

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    The Film

    This David-vs.-Goliath story follows the psychiatrists and activists who fought to remove homosexuality from the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) in the early 1970s. Facing treatments such as electroconvulsive therapy, castration, and lobotomies as “cures” for homosexuality, gay people recognized that overturning the mental illness label was a crucial step on the road to equality. Through newly unearthed archival footage and incisive interviews with participants, this award-winning film illuminates a pivotal moment in the Gay Liberation movement—one that changed not only the LGBTQ community and the field of psychiatry, but also the social fabric of America.