Tag Archives: Frank Kameny


Today the 8th Annual CUFF.Docs Documentary Film Festival opens and runs until December 1st. As per new pandemic restrictions the festival has moved completely online. If you like documentaries, this festival always delivers. Now they have a must-see film for queer history fans.

CURED takes viewers inside the campaign that led to a pivotal moment in the struggle for LGBTQ equality: the American Psychiatric Association’s 1973 decision to remove homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses. Combining eyewitness testimony with newly unearthed archival footage, the film reveals how a small group of impassioned activists achieved this unexpected victory.

“Suspenseful and furnishing a slam-dunk case about the landmark importance of this event, Cured is probably the best LGBTQ documentary of the year.” – Bay Area Reporter

Interestingly, there is a Calgary connection to this historical event. Rick Sullivan, a University of Calgary grad student and gay activist of the early 70s attempted a similar intervention. He met with local delegates to the American Psychological Association’s AGM to bring forward a motion to strike homosexuality as a mental illness from the DSM. The U of C delegates going to the convention declined to bring his motion forward. He says: “I remember being very stung by this at a personal as well as a political level.”

U of C Student and Calgary Gay Liberation Front co-founder Rick Sullivan in 1974

Brennan Tilley, CUFF’s lead film programmer says: “a common theme across many selections in CUFF.Docs this year is how stories are told and by whom. We have several films that feature subjects that define their own narrative. The inclusion of homosexuality in the DSM is an oft mentioned piece of history. What is rarely covered is how it came to be removed. The ultimate decision came four years after the Stonewall uprising. There is a stark contrast in the methods of these two events but they are closely tied stepping stones in the progress of LGBTQ rights. It is important to highlight how a landmark decision was reached through meetings, academic research, symposia, reviews, deliberations, and a vote. It also is much more entertaining than one might expect from a documentary about a scientific body altering a manual.”

An image from CURED: activists Barbara Gittings, Frank Kameny and Dr. Anonymous


Gay is Good

Gay_is_GoodThe rallying cry of gay liberation throughout the 1970s, was in fact coined in 1968 by pre-Stonewall American gay rights activist Frank Kameny. Frequently found on placards and buttons, the slogan also made its way into famous liberation manifestos. Lesbian activist, Martha Shelley’s 1972 booklet, “Gay is Good” was, and still is, radical and explosive:

Look out, straights. Here comes the Gay Liberation Front, springing up like warts all over the bland face of Amerika, causing shudders of indigestion in the delicately balanced bowels of the movement.”

Gay is Good was heard in Canada also.  The country’s first large scale political demonstration on Parliament Hill was on August 28, 1971. Despite the rain, over 100 activists marched and picketed.  Toronto Gay Action’s Charlie Hill proclaimed Gay is Good during his historic speech in support of the “We Demand” brief submitted to the federal government a week prior.

We demand image

Charlie Hill delivering demands in 1971.  Click photo to see CBC footage of demonstration.  Photo credit: Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives.


Gay liberation made its way to Calgary in 1972 with the short-lived formation of a local chapter of the Gay Liberation Front.  Calgary liberation activists mobilized around a more permanent organization in June 1976: the Gay Information Resource Centre (GIRC).  In 1980 GIRC organized the first gay rights political demonstration in Alberta, with our very own “placard-waving homosexuals” on the steps of Calgary City Hall.

Gay is good.