Timeline of sexual orientation and medicine

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Timeline of events related to sexual orientation and medicine


19th century


20th century















21st century


America’s gay and lesbian population comprises a diverse community with disparate health concerns. Major health issues for gay men are HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, substance use, depression, and suicide. Gay male adolescents are two to three times more likely than their peers to attempt suicide. Some evidence suggests lesbians have higher rates of smoking, overweight, alcohol use disorder, and stress than heterosexual women. The issues surrounding personal, family, and social acceptance of sexual orientation can place a significant burden on mental health and personal safety.


If you own a business or if you have a private entity, and there are rules for membership there, you have to follow the rules or you can't be a member. For example, if you come to Brigham Young University, where my children happen to go to school, there are certain things you do not do, among which is, you do not drink Coca-Cola on campus because that's against the rules. ...

John Nelson, president AMA [9]

These [LGBT] adolescents may experience profound isolation and fear of discovery, which interferes with achieving developmental tasks of adolescence related to self-esteem, identity, and intimacy. Nonheterosexual youth often are subjected to harassment and violence; 45% of gay men and 20% of lesbians surveyed were victims of verbal and physical assaults in secondary school specifically because of their sexual orientation. Nonheterosexual youth are at higher risk of dropping out of school, being kicked out of their homes, and turning to life on the streets for survival. Some of these youth engage in substance use, and they are more likely than heterosexual peers to start using tobacco, alcohol, and illegal drugs at an earlier age. Youth in high school who identify themselves as gay, lesbian, or bisexual; engage in sexual activity with persons of the same sex; or report same-sex romantic attractions or relationships are more likely to attempt suicide, be victimized, and abuse substances. . . . School-based studies have found that these adolescents, compared with heterosexual peers, are 2 to 7 times more likely to attempt suicide [and] are 2 to 4 times more likely to be threatened with a weapon at school.


I know that GLMA members and LGBT physicians have been treated unfairly by the AMA in the past. There is simply no excuse for discriminatory actions or exclusions based on sexual orientation or gender identity -- none. First, GLMA has opened [the AMA's] eyes to the diverse needs of LGBT patients, and second -- and just as important -- GLMA has told patients that they have the right to expect a health care system filled with openness, fairness and equality." [11]






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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Heterosexuality</span> Attraction between people of the opposite sex or gender

Heterosexuality is romantic attraction, sexual attraction or sexual behavior between people of the opposite sex or gender. As a sexual orientation, heterosexuality is "an enduring pattern of emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attractions" to people of the opposite sex; it "also refers to a person's sense of identity based on those attractions, related behaviors, and membership in a community of others who share those attractions." Someone who is heterosexual is commonly referred to as straight.

Conversion therapy is the pseudoscientific practice of attempting to change an individual's sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression to align with heterosexual and cisgender norms. Methods that have been used to this end include forms of brain surgery, surgical or hormonal castration, aversive treatments such as electric shocks, nausea-inducing drugs, hypnosis, counseling, spiritual interventions, visualization, psychoanalysis, and masturbatory reconditioning.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sexual orientation</span> Pattern of romantic or sexual attraction

Sexual orientation is an enduring pattern of romantic or sexual attraction to persons of the opposite sex or gender, the same sex or gender, or to both sexes or more than one gender. These attractions are generally subsumed under heterosexuality, homosexuality, and bisexuality, while asexuality is sometimes identified as the fourth category.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Homosexuality and psychology</span> Homosexuality as viewed by the field of psychology

The field of psychology has extensively studied homosexuality as a human sexual orientation. The American Psychiatric Association listed homosexuality in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) in 1952, but that classification came under scrutiny in research funded by the National Institute of Mental Health. That research and subsequent studies consistently failed to produce any empirical or scientific basis for regarding homosexuality as anything other than a natural and normal sexual orientation that is a healthy and positive expression of human sexuality. As a result of this scientific research, the American Psychiatric Association declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder in 1973. Upon a thorough review of the scientific data, the American Psychological Association followed in 1975 and also called on all mental health professionals to take the lead in "removing the stigma of mental illness that has long been associated" with homosexuality. In 1993, the National Association of Social Workers adopted the same position as the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association, in recognition of scientific evidence. The World Health Organization, which listed homosexuality in the ICD-9 in 1977, removed homosexuality from the ICD-10 which was endorsed by the 43rd World Health Assembly on 17 May 1990.

Richard A. Isay was an American psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, author and gay activist. He was a professor of psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College and a faculty member of the Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research. Isay is considered a pioneer who changed the way that psychoanalysts view homosexuality.

GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ Equality (GLMA) is an international organization of approximately 1,000 LGBT healthcare professionals and students of all disciplines. Its members include physicians, advanced practice nurses, physician assistants, nurses, behavioral health specialists, researchers and academician, and their supporters in the United States and internationally.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Homosexuality</span> Romantic or sexual attraction or behavior between members of the same sex or gender

Homosexuality is romantic attraction, sexual attraction, or sexual behavior between members of the same sex or gender. As a sexual orientation, homosexuality is "an enduring pattern of emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attractions" to people of the same sex. It "also refers to a person's sense of identity based on those attractions, related behaviors, and membership in a community of others who share those attractions."

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ego-dystonic sexual orientation</span>

Ego-dystonic sexual orientation is a highly controversial mental health diagnosis that was included in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) from 1980 to 1987 and in the World Health Organization's (WHO) International Classification of Diseases (ICD) from 1990 to 2019. Individuals could be diagnosed with ego-dystonic sexual orientation if their sexual orientation or attractions were at odds with their idealized self-image, causing anxiety and a desire to change their orientation or become more comfortable with it. It describes not innate sexual orientation itself, but a conflict between the sexual orientation a person wishes to have and their actual sexual orientation.

Adolescent medicine also known as adolescent and young adult medicine is a medical subspecialty that focuses on care of patients who are in the adolescent period of development. This period begins at puberty and lasts until growth has stopped, at which time adulthood begins. Typically, patients in this age range will be in the last years of middle school up until college graduation. In developed nations, the psychosocial period of adolescence is extended both by an earlier start, as the onset of puberty begins earlier, and a later end, as patients require more years of education or training before they reach economic independence from their parents.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">LGBT parenting</span> LGBT people raising one or more children

LGBT parenting refers to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people raising one or more children as parents or foster care parents. This includes: children raised by same-sex couples, children raised by single LGBT parents, and children raised by an opposite-sex couple where at least one partner is LGBT.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Questioning (sexuality and gender)</span> Process of self-exploration

The questioning of one's sexual orientation, sexual identity, gender, or all three is a process of exploration by people who may be unsure, still exploring, or concerned about applying a social label to themselves for various reasons. The letter "Q" is sometimes added to the end of the acronym LGBT ; the "Q" can refer to either queer or questioning.

John Edward Hill is an American family physician in Tupelo, Mississippi.

Jack Drescher is an American psychiatrist and psychoanalyst known for his work on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Various topics in medicine relate to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. According to the US Gay and Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA), besides HIV/AIDS, issues related to LGBT health include breast and cervical cancer, hepatitis, mental health, substance use disorders, alcohol use, tobacco use, depression, access to care for transgender persons, issues surrounding marriage and family recognition, conversion therapy, refusal clause legislation, and laws that are intended to "immunize health care professionals from liability for discriminating against persons of whom they disapprove."

Homosexuality, as a phenomenon and as a behavior, has existed throughout all eras in human societies.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">American College of Pediatricians</span> Socially-conservative anti-LGBT advocacy group

The American College of Pediatricians (ACPeds) is a socially conservative advocacy group of pediatricians and other healthcare professionals in the United States. The group was founded in 2002. In 2005, it reportedly had between 150 and 200 members and one employee; in 2016, it reportedly had 500 physician members. The group's primary focus is advocating against abortion and the adoption of children by gay or lesbian people. It also advocates conversion therapy.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Outline of LGBT topics</span> Overview of and topical guide to LGBT topics

The following outline offers an overview and guide to LGBT topics.

Homosexuality was classified as a mental disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) beginning with the first edition, published in 1952 by the American Psychiatric Association (APA). This classification was challenged by gay rights activists in the years following the 1969 Stonewall riots, and in December 1973, the APA board of trustees voted to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder. In 1974, the DSM was updated and homosexuality was replaced with a new diagnostic code for individuals distressed by their homosexuality. Distress over one's sexual orientation remained in the manual, under different names, until the DSM-5 in 2013.

Many health organizations around the world have denounced and criticized sexual orientation and gender identity change efforts. National health organizations in the United States have announced that there has been no scientific demonstration of conversion therapy's efficacy in the last forty years. They find that conversion therapy is ineffective, risky and can be harmful. Anecdotal claims of cures are counterbalanced by assertions of harm, and the American Psychiatric Association, for example, cautions ethical practitioners under the Hippocratic oath to do no harm and to refrain from attempts at conversion therapy.

The history of conversion therapy can be divided broadly into three periods: an early Freudian period; a period of mainstream approval of conversion therapy, when the mental health establishment became the "primary superintendent" of sexuality; and a post-Stonewall period where the mainstream medical profession disavowed conversion therapy.


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