RICHARD C. FRIEDMAN was born on this date and was an academic psychiatrist, the Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College, and a faculty member at Columbia University. He was also a courageous ally of the gay community. He conducted research in the endocrinology and the psychodynamics of homosexuality, especially within the context of psychoanalysis. Friedman was born in The Bronx, New York.
In the 1960s when marriage and adopting children seemed an impossible dream for gay men, Dr. Friedman was our champion. His 1988 book, Male Homosexuality: A Contemporary Psychoanalytic Perspective showed that sexual orientation was largely biological and presented a case that helped undermine the belief held by most Freudian analysts at the time that homosexuality was a pathology that could be cured.
His wife, a clinical social worker at the Weill Medical College of Cornell commented, “Straight people had the same personality issues, and they got away with murder; but gay people were stigmatized, and he didn’t think that was right.”
His work was a direct challenge to popular Freudian theories and thrust him into the center of debates among the more established heavyweights of psychoanalysis. It led to a model in which analyst and patient simply assumed that homosexuality was intrinsic, said Jack Drescher, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University who knew Dr. Friedman and would later offer his own critiques of Dr. Friedman’s theory as new approaches to working with gay and lesbian patients emerged.