Cabaret with Queer Family Tea … Documentary “Cured” … Can we trust Liz Trust on conversion therapy?

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Queer Family Tea

Manchester grassroots organisation Queer Family Tea (QFT) held their relaunch event on 28 October. QFT provides a sober space for LGBTQIA+ individuals in Greater Manchester.

The relaunch event, a cabaret night featuring multiple local entertainers, was hosted at the historic Victoria Baths.

Victoria Baths is a Grade II listed building, in the Chorlton-on-Medlock area of Manchester. The Baths opened to the public in 1906 and cost £59,144 to build. Manchester City Council closed the baths in 1993 and the building was left empty. A multimillion-pound restoration project began in 2007.

In the design and construction of the Baths, a great deal of money was expended, Manchester having at that time one of the world’s wealthiest municipal coffers. The façade has multi-coloured brickwork and terracotta decoration. The main interior public spaces are clad in glazed tiles from floor to ceiling and most of the many windows have decorative stained glass.

The event started with a homemade meal in the café and was followed by a tour of the building. At 7.30pm, the cabaret began in the old swimming pool at the Baths, and we heard the SHE Choir, spoken word, drag kings and queens, dance, and comedy.

More photos can be seen here.

Documentary “Cured” shows how homosexuality was removed as a mental disorder

In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association made the landmark decision to remove homosexuality from its manual of mental disorders. It had classified same-sex attraction as a “sociopathic personality disturbance” in its first edition, which was published in 1952.

In the documentary “Cured”, filmmakers Patrick Sammon and Bennett Singer give an inside look at the movement to remove the classification and the pioneering activists who took on the American Psychiatric Association, a formidable institution, and won.

“To be considered a sociopath is quite an intense burden to be branded with,” Singer says.

The activists’ mission was not only to overturn the official diagnosis, but also create a meaningful dialogue with the rank-and-file members of the association that would challenge deep-rooted prejudices and transform minds.

Disguised as “Dr. Henry Anonymous” in an oversized tuxedo and distorted Richard Nixon mask, Dr. John Fryer sent shock waves through the American Psychiatric Association’s 1972 convention by describing his life as a closeted gay psychiatrist. Activists Barbara Gittings, far left, and Frank Kameny, also were on the panel to talk about being gay. Photo: Kay Tobin via Manuscripts & Archives Division, The New York Public Library.

Cured” made its broadcast debut on 11 October 2021 – National Coming Out Day – in the United States.

Up until 1973, the psychiatric establishment said homosexuality was a condition that needed to be cured. In addition to intensive talk therapy, LGBT+ people received painful and brutal treatments including electroconvulsive therapy, aversion therapy, and in extreme cases, castration and lobotomies.

Fearing these “cures” and widespread stigma, many gay men and lesbians were afraid to be their authentic selves.

Adding insult to injury, the American Psychiatric Association’s “scientific” diagnosis was often used to justify discrimination and persecution against gay men and lesbians.

The documentary “Cured” also provides vital historical context for the ongoing debate about conversion therapy, a harmful practice that aims to cure gender identity or sexual orientation through psychological or faith-based interventions, sometimes called “Pray the Gay Away.”

Although conversion therapy has been discredited by the American Psychiatric Association and other major medical organisations, it is still legal for minors in 30 states.

In an interview with Q Voice News, Singer, who co-produced and co-directed “Cured,” talks about the gay and lesbian trailblazers showcased in the film and their quest to have homosexuality declassified as a mental disorder.

Here are some excerpts:

Movement to have homosexuality removed as a mental disorder

“I had a general sense that something had changed in 1973 and that there was a turning point, but I didn’t know what had happened, what it meant or how it had happened,” Singer says. “Patrick, my co-director and co-producer, had the idea that this was a story that hadn’t been told.

It’s a pivotal moment in the modern LGBTQ movement. This story deserved a closer look to really understand what happened and why it mattered,” he says. “The clock was ticking because so many of the participants and activists at the heart of the story were at an advanced age. Of the 15 people we interviewed, five of our storytellers have died.

It really underscores in a big way that essential history is easily lost if it is not documented.”

Impact of removing the mental disorder label

“Once the label had been removed, it opened the doors to a whole range of other civil rights progress in legislation,” Singer says. “The federal government began rethinking its prejudice policies toward gay people. “There is a direct line up to the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and the legalisation of same sex marriage. There was a rethinking of gay people as healthy, productive citizens who deserved rights and dignity.”

Conversion therapy – can we trust Liz Truss?

The Tory government has repeatedly pledged to outlaw the traumatising practice, which has been discredited by every major psychiatric body.

In May 2021, Queen Elizabeth II promised a conversion therapy ban would be brought forward during her speech at the State Opening of Parliament.

Immediately afterwards, the Government Equalities Office said legislation would be advanced following a public consultation process which would “ensure that the ban can address the practice while protecting the medical profession; defending freedom of speech; and upholding religious freedom.”

The public consultation was supposed to be launched in September, but was pushed back.

The delay is just the latest setback in the long fight to ban conversion therapy in the UK. Theresa May’s government first promised to outlaw the practice in 2018 – but more than three years on, conversion therapy remains legal in all regions of the UK.

In the years that have elapsed since that initial promise, Tory ministers have repeatedly promised that legislation will be advanced – but they have also repeatedly kicked the can down the road.

A six-week public consultation has now opened on 29 October over how best to end conversion therapy, which is described by health bodies as an attempt to change or suppress someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

This generally entails trying to stop or suppress someone from being gay, or from living as a different gender to their sex recorded at birth.

After the consultation the Minister for Women and Equalities, Liz Truss, will decide on whether the plans should be amended. A bill will be drawn up by next spring, with the aim of putting it on to the statute book by May 2022.

Liz Truss leaves Downing Street after attending a cabinet meeting in central London on 27 October 2021.
(Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP)

A 2017 survey estimated 5% of LGBT people have been offered conversion therapy, and 2% have experienced it.

A ban was first mooted in the same year, and the new proposals include stronger legislation for England and Wales, including creating a new criminal offence.

Liz Truss said: “There should be no place for the abhorrent practice of coercive conversion therapy in our society.”

The consultation also contains a range of other suggested measures including:

  • Conversion therapy protection orders;
  • Restricting promotion of conversion therapy, including online;
  • Removing profit streams from perpetrators; and
  • Making it easier to disqualify a perpetrator from holding a senior role in a charity.

If you want to submit your views regarding the proposals, please click here.

One thought on “Cabaret with Queer Family Tea … Documentary “Cured” … Can we trust Liz Trust on conversion therapy?

  1. Can we trust Liz Truss?
    No
    She will pretend to canvas views like she did with Gender Recognition last year and then change nothing and make lies and mealy mouthed statements about consulting people and how religious groups’ views have to be considered. As they are the worst offenders with so called conversion therapy why should their views be taken into account?
    I have a very low hope that Truss will do the right thing and ban conversion therapy – she has her eyes firmly on being the next Prime Minister and will play to the Tory faithful who decide that.
    All very sad.

    Pauline

    Like

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