Gay rights are certainly having a moment, which makes this a good time to revisit the career of Dr. Robert L. Spitzer, who helped change psychiatry's definition of homosexuality away from a "disorder" but also lent his substantial influence to a study supporting a "gay cure." A New York Times report by Benedict Carey on Friday's home page tells the story about how Spitzer came to make amends on the latter. As Spitzer puts it: "I owe the gay community an apology.”
Spitzer's apology came in a letter he wrote to former collaborator Dr. Kenneth Zucker, obtained by Truth Wins Out, after Spitzer retracted the 2001 study in April. Because so much of the reporting on this reversal so far has been done by outlets with a clearly stated agenda (Truth Wins Out, for example, is dedicated to fighting the "ex-gay myth"), The Times story is valuable to understanding the nature and magnitude of Spitzer's change because it approaches the man and his work on a personal level. Whether you see Spitzer as a hero or a villain, or are just learning about him now, Carey's account shows him for what he is: An old man at the end of his career and life, trying to make right something he now believes was wrong. And that's at least worth a read.