Upon the death of psychiatrist Charles W. Socarides two weeks ago, Van of Head of the KweerWolf wrote a thoughtful and personal analysis.
Van encountered Socarides’ book, The Overt Homosexual, at a time in the 1970s when Van was first coming to terms with his attraction to other men.
What I found in Socarides’ book didn’t sound like me. The book told me about men in San Francisco who wore dresses and makeup and got kicked out of fancy department stores for using the women’s restrooms. It told me about men who lived their lives around cruising for sex in public restrooms and in parks. It told me how many of them met tragic ends, though it was pointed out that their ends were their own doings … an early sort of “blame the victim” argument. It told me these men were sick.
Suddenly, I begin to wonder if the word “homosexual” really did apply to me since I had never done any of those things.
I think Socarides’ book was the beginning of my lifelong queasiness with the word “homosexual.”
Van concludes that Socarides left a “legacy of prejudice wrapped in pseudo-science” that fuels the tiny but vocal reparative-therapy and exgay movements.