Remembering LGBTQ+ Rights Pioneer Charles Silverstein
Author: Trudy Ring
Charles Silverstein, who helped remove homosexuality from the American Psychiatric Association’s list of mental illnesses and coauthored The Joy of Gay Sex, has died at age 87.
Silverstein’s death was announced on Twitter by Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies. He died Monday, the organization said. He was a native and longtime resident of New York City.
Silverstein’s first career was teaching elementary school, but in the 1970s he earned a Ph.D. in psychology and opened a private psychotherapy practice, according to Outwords. That was a pivotal decade for him in many ways. In 1973, his presentation helped persuade the APA to remove homosexuality from its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
“Since I was a psychologist, or at least working on my Ph.D. in psychology, it was decided that I should make the professional presentation, meaning the presentation, all the research and clinical work that suggested that homosexuality was not a mental disorder,” he told The Advocate’s LGBTQ&A podcast in 2021, in one of his last interviews. “And then Jean O’Leary, who had been a nun but was no longer a nun, she left the church. She would make the presentation from the point of view of ordinary people, about discrimination in the city of New York. So it was a very well-organized presentation. We knew what everybody was going to do.”
“I really do like to say these changes that occurred are not because of any one person at any one time, but it’s really the sum total of a number of people who fought, sometimes against the enemy, sometimes with each other, because we had lots of that,” he continued. There is no one person that can claim responsibility for these changes. We worked together. I was chosen to make this presentation because I knew the research, I knew the data, and I could present it well.”
In the 1970s, he was also involved with the Gay Activists Alliance, a group known for its in-your-face protests, known as “zaps.” And in 1977, the first edition of The Joy of Gay Sex was published; Silverstein wrote it with novelist Edmund White. Silverstein had noted that he had little idea what he was doing in his first gay sexual experience, and he wanted to help other gay men be better prepared.
He also wrote Man to Man: Gay Couples in America; Gays, Lesbians, and Their Therapists; A Family Matter: A Parent’s Guide to Homosexuality; two more editions of The Joy of Gay Sex, with Felice Picano; and For the Ferryman: A Personal Memoir. He was editor of the Journal of Homosexuality.
Silverstein received many honors, including the Gold Medal for Lifetime Achievement from the American Psychological Association and the Achievement Award from GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBT Equality.
His longtime partner, William Bory, died of AIDS complications in 1992. He married Bill Bartelt in 2017.
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Original Article on The Advocate
Author: Trudy Ring