Jennifer Park | Layout Editor
Dr. Richard Green, one of psychiatry’s earliest critics of classifying homosexuality as a mental disorder, died of esophageal cancer on April 6, 2019.
Dr. Green practiced during a period of time when being gay was pathologized. When the American Psychiatric Association listed homosexuality in the first Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder (DSM) in 1952, the lack of empirical scientific evidence showing homosexuality as anything other than natural and normal drew scrutiny.
However, this was a time of harsh discrimination against the LGBT community which saw fewer legal protections than today. Many feared supporting the community out of fear of being labeled a homosexual themselves.
Despite this pressure, Green publicly advocated for members of the LGBT community, testifying on their behalf in more than a dozen court cases.
He would eventually complete a law degree to better defend LGBT individuals and work with the ACLU to sue the Boy Scouts Organization for not allowing gay troop leaders.
Green also wrote a paper for The International Journal of Psychiatry in 1972, against the wishes of his colleagues, that challenged the labeling of homosexuality as a mental disorder. In a culmination of the work done by Green and many other activists, homosexuality was removed as a disorder from the DSM just a year later.
His other professional work includes having served as the founding editor of Archives of Sexual Behavior, working to establish the International Academy of Sex Research and serving as the resident of the organization now known as the World Profession Association for Transgender Health.
Richard Green was a man who had the strength and integrity to take a stand against the psychiatric institution and popular prejudice to advocate for the LGBT community in a time when so many sympathetic voices stayed silent, and who continued the fight for his entire life.
He is one of many activists whose legacy in securing the rights of LGBT individuals continues to make an impact in the lives of people today.