Dr. Richard Isay, a psychiatrist and
psychoanalyst who argued that being gay was normal, not an illness,
has died at the age of 77.
Isay, the father of two sons who came
out gay at the age of 40, died of cancer, The
New York Times reported.
“He changed the way the
psychoanalytic world viewed the subject of homosexuality,” Dr. Jack
Drescher, a training and supervising analyst at the William Alanson
White Institute in New York, told the paper. Drescher is also the
author of Psychoanalytic Therapy and the Gay Man.
“He was a pioneer, a very brave man.
He was attacked by psychoanalysts. He took a lot of flak,”
After undergoing a decade of therapy in
the early 1970s, Isay realized that he was gay. He eschewed the
mainstream psychoanalytic view on homosexuality: that it was an
Some colleagues attacked Isay's ideas,
which he presented at professional meetings, where he acknowledged
that he was gay.
“I think he was hurt very badly by
many colleagues,” Drescher said.
Isay married his partner of 33 years,
Gordon Harrell, an artist, last year in Manhattan. A grandson stood
in as the best man. He is survived by his husband, his former wife,
two sons and four grandchildren.
Isay is the author of Being
Homosexual (1989), Becoming Gay (1997) and Commitment
and Healing: Gay Men and the Need for Romantic Love (2006).
Being Homosexual, according to The
Advocate, was “one of the earliest works to argue that
homosexuality was an inborn identity.”