168 Gay & Straight: No Difference

Based on research by Hooker, Evelyn (1957), adapted by Juanita N. Baker, Ph.D.

Psychologist Evelyn Hooker, in 1957, was the first scientist to empirically test the then widely-held social cultural assumption that gay men were mentally unhealthy and maladjusted.

She compared 30 homosexual males and 30 heterosexual males matched for age, IQ, and education. Dr. Hooker administered projective tests. Two independent experts, unaware of each subject’s sexual orientation, evaluated the men’s overall adjustment. They classified two-thirds of both groups as highly adjusted. The experts could not distinguish respondents’ sexual orientation better than chance.

Subsequent research, sparked by her study, supports her research showing homosexuals are as psychologically adjusted as heterosexuals. This began to dismantle the myth that homosexual men and women are inherently unhealthy.

With accumulating empirical results, the American Psychiatric Association in 1973 dropped homosexuality as a personality disorder. The American Psychological Association supported this move, stating that “homosexuality per se implies no impairment in judgment, reliability or general social and vocational capabilities. Mental health professionals should take the lead in removing the stigma of mental illness long associated with homosexual orientation.”

Although prejudice and stigma still exist in society, this research has helped millions of gay men and women gain acceptance.

Cited Research

Hooker, E. (1957). The adjustment of the male overt homosexual. Journal of Projective Techniques, 21, 18-31.

Additional Sources

Bohan, J. S. (1996). Psychology and sexual orientation: Coming to terms. New York: Routledge.

For more details see:


American Psychological Association, May 28, 2003

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