Some assume positions on controversial issues such as gay “cure” therapies evolve over time. This letter from Sigmund Freud written in 1935 may debunk that.

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The famed father of psychoanalysis an amazing and eloquent response to one parent’s concerns over having a gay child.

In the letter he writes that being gay ” is nothing to be ashamed of”, that it “cannot be classified as an illness” and names Plato, Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci as “several of the greatest men”, who were gay.

Continuing, he considers the case of whether he could make the child into a “normal heterosexual”, but instead of “treatment”, recommends “analysis”, to “bring him harmony, peace of mind”.

Despite still contemplating the idea that gay “conversion” therapy is possible, Freud seems well on his way to deeming it dangerous, not to mention that this was published years before other similar opinions and studies on the issue.

The World Health Organisation still classed homosexuality as a mental disorder in 1990.

The letter, originally written in 1935, was given to Alfred Kinsey, and was later reproduced in the American Journal of Psychiatry in 1951.

It is currently available to see at the Museum of Sexology exhibit on at the Wellcome Collection in London.

The full text of the letter is available to read below: 

Dear Mrs [Erased],

I gather from your letter that your son is a homosexual. I am most impressed by the fact that you do not mention this term yourself in your information about him. May I question you why you avoid it? Homosexuality is assuredly no advantage, but it is nothing to be ashamed of, no vice, no degradation; it cannot be classified as an illness; we consider it to be a variation of the sexual function, produced by a certain arrest of sexual development. Many highly respectable individuals of ancient and modern times have been homosexuals, several of the greatest men among them. (Plato, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, etc). It is a great injustice to persecute homosexuality as a crime – and a cruelty, too. If you do not believe me, read the books of Havelock Ellis.

By asking me if I can help, you mean, I suppose, if I can abolish homosexuality and make normal heterosexuality take its place. The answer is, in a general way we cannot promise to achieve it. In a certain number of cases we succeed in developing the blighted germs of heterosexual tendencies, which are present in every homosexual in the majority of cases it is no more possible. It is a question of the quality and the age of the individual. The result of treatment cannot be predicted.

What analysis can do for your son runs on a different line. If he is unhappy, neurotic, torn by conflicts, inhibited in his social life, analysis may bring him harmony, peace of mind, full efficiency, whether he remains a homosexual or gets changed. If you make up your mind he should have analysis with me — I don’t expect you will — he has to come over to Vienna. I have no intention of leaving here. However, don’t neglect to give me your answer.

Sincerely yours with best wishes,

Freud

P.s. I did not find it difficult to read your handwriting. Hope you will not find my writing and my English a harder task.

The original letter in all its glory is available on the next page