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Film and TV

Pose creator lands new series telling the seismic true story of the fight to declassify homosexuality as a mental illness

Lily Wakefield July 21, 2020
Pose creator Steven Canals

Pose creator Steven Canals attends the 71st Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 22, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Frazer Harrison/Getty)

Pose creator Steven Canals is creating a new FX series, 81 Words, dramatising the story of how homosexuality was declassified as a mental illness.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Emmy-nominated co-creator of Pose will write and executive produce a limited series called 81 Words.

The show will be based an episode of the award-winning podcast This American Life of the same name.

According to the podcast: “In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) declared that homosexuality was not a disease simply by changing the 81-word definition of sexual deviance in its own reference manual.”

The log line for Canals’s upcoming series reads: “Until 1974, the medical establishment considered gay people sexually deviant and diagnosed them as mentally ill.

81 Words tells the true story of gay activists Frank Kameny and Barbara Gittings, who risked their career and reputation to conspire with the GAYPA — a clandestine group of closeted psychiatrists — and challenge the American Psychiatric Association’s definition of homosexuality.”

Kameny and Gittings also joined forces to call for the first gay rights protest outside the White House in 1965.

The pair demanded the repeal of anti-gay laws and equal treatment for federal gay employees, as well as declassification of homosexuality as a mental disorder, four years before the Stonewall Uprising.

Pose on pause amid pandemic.

81 Words is currently in development with 20th Century Fox TV, as Canals signed a deal with the company after it produced Pose.

Filming on the third season of Pose, co-created with super-producer Ryan Murphy and regular collaborator Bryan Falchuk, been paused during the coronavirus pandemic.

Canals previously admitted that social distancing regulations might force the show to ditch its iconic ballroom scenes, which can often require as many as 150 background actors.

Earlier this year, Pose gave away parts of its set depicting a hospital during the AIDS crisis to help the present-day battle against coronavirus.

As the show’s production was brought to a grinding halt, it revealed that genuine medical supplies used to build the set had been gifted to real-life hospitals.

More: 81 words, american psychiatric association, FX, Homosexuality, mental illness, Pose creator, series, Steven Canals, this american life

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