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Producer Patrick Sammon Brings His Film Cured to TPH

by admin

On Thursday, Oct. 13, The Picture House Pelham is hosting a one-night-only screening of the documentary Cured, a vital look into a little-known part of LGBTQIA history — the fight to have homosexuality removed from the American Psychiatric Association’s list of mental illnesses.  

Producer Patrick Sammon will be attendance for a Q&A following the screening. He also wrote a bit about what it means to him to screen Cured for an in-person audience.

After two years of mostly virtual screenings, it’s wonderful to be able to present Cured to an in-person audience. Nothing can replace the shared experience of coming together to watch a film on the big screen. My co-director and I have participated in more than 125 screening events and panel discussions in the past two years. More than 100 of those have been virtual screenings. I realize the pandemic prevented most in-person gatherings, but it’s fantastic to get back together in front of a big screen and have a shared viewing experience. After working on the film for so long, it’s exciting to be able to share this important story with a new audience. And it will be excellent to talk with the audience after the screening of Cured. There’s so much to this story that didn’t make it in the final cut. The post-screening conversation will offer the opportunity to give additional context and background to this story. Additionally, I’ll be able to discuss some of the lessons from Cured that remain relevant to the on-going fight for LGBTQ equality.

Patrick and director Bennett Singer wrote an article for The Advocate about their film and the historical moment it sheds light on. Below is an excerpt from that article, which can be read in full here.

[O]n May 2, 1972…a man sat at a conference table, disguised in a distorted Richard Nixon mask, a fright wig, and an oversized tuxedo, and delivered an electrifying speech to hundreds of startled onlookers. This surreal moment was an arresting piece of political theater — and an unlikely turning point in the movement for LGBTQ+ equality and dignity.

Seated next to the pioneering gay activists Frank Kameny and Barbara Gittings, the man in the mask directed his remarks to an audience of psychiatrists, who were engaged in a civil war over a simple but profound question: Is homosexuality a mental illness? In 1952, when the American Psychiatric Association published the first edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, homosexuality was classified as a “sociopathic personality disturbance,” characterized by a failure to conform to prevailing social norms. As a result, every gay man and lesbian, no matter how well-adjusted, was branded as mentally ill.

What’s more, psychiatrists viewed this “sickness” as a treatable condition. Doctors used intensive talk therapy — and, in some instances, castrations, hysterectomies, electroconvulsive treatment, and lobotomies — to “cure” homosexuals.

Gay liberation activists understood that the mental illness diagnosis had dire consequences. As the late Kay Lahusen — who took the iconic photo of Dr. Anonymous delivering his speech — told us in an interview for our PBS documentary Cured, “We could not expect our civil rights as long as we were burdened with the sickness label.”

Tickets to this special screening and Q&A are still available and can be purchased on our website.