The removal of homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in late 1973 by the American Psychiatric Association is seen by many as a crucial turning point for mental health treatment of those in the LGBT community. But well before that change, and in the following years, counselors, therapists, and social workers at places like Philadelphia's Eromin Center were engaged in "clinical activism" that would serve as a model for today's LGBT-affirmative psychotherapy and social services, according to an article in the November edition of the American Psychologist.
Clinical Activism in Community-Based Practice: The Case of LGBT Affirmative Care at the Eromin Center, Philadelphia, 1973-1984 is authored by David S. Byers, assistant professor at the Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research; Stephen Vider, assistant professor of history at Cornell University; and Amelia Smith, a social worker at the Mazzoni Center in Philadelphia,
"The important role of LGBT counseling programs has largely been overlooked in recent histories of LGBT mental health and health care...Eromin was emblematic of a larger movement of LGBT clinical activism in the United States, drawing inspiration from programs that predated it and providing models for programs that followed its founding," write the authors.
The paper is part of an oral history and archival research project that Byers and Vider have been leading since 2015. The oral histories will be archived in Cornell University Library’s Rare and Manuscript Collections as part of its Human Sexuality Collection.