217 Boxes of Dr. Henry Anonymous

This year marks the 45th anniversary of the declassification of homosexuality as a mental illness. 217 Boxes of Dr. Henry Anonymous is a play about the man who helped remove homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) and whose remarkable courage transformed the LGBT civil rights movement.

Catch the play while you're in New York for the 2018 Annual Meeting. The play will be presented by the Equality Forum, the nation's leading nonprofit LGBT civil rights organization, May 3-9, 2018 at the Jerome Robbins Theater at the Baryshnikov Arts Center. For more information or tickets visit 217boxes.com

In the early 1970s, homosexuality was listed as a mental disorder in the DSM. One man, a psychiatrist, spoke to his peers about being gay at the American Psychiatric Association's Annual Meeting in 1972 in Dallas, Texas.

"I am a homosexual. I am a psychiatrist," Dr. John Ercel Fryer famously stated in his speech to the APA.

In order to protect himself, he wore a rubber Halloween mask and spoke with a voice modulator calling himself Dr. Henry Anonymous. He had previously lost his job at the University of Pennsylvania because he was gay. Fryer's testimony was supported by a wave of research on human sexuality. The APA convened a special committee to investigate the classification of homosexuality and by 1973 changed its position on homosexuality and removed it from the DSM.

217 Boxes of Dr. Henry Anonymous is written and directed by Obie-Award winner Ain Gordon. Though Fryer's famous speech is included in the play, the main focus is his relationships with friends and family. Gordon learned about Fryer when he found 217 boxes of Fryer's papers tucked away at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in Center City. The play focuses on three characters with a series of monologues from the letters found the 217 boxes. The cast includes Laura Esterman, Derek Lucci, and Ken Marks.

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