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Psychoanalytic group and Pride St. Louis team up to sponsor movie

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 31, 2012 - Psychoanalyst Gary L. Hirshberg is hoping that a provocative film about human sexuality will spur more dialogue and understanding between the St. Louis Psychoanalytic Institute and members of Pride St. Louis. The two groups are sponsoring "Shortbus," a film by John Cameron Mitchell, at 7:30 p.m., Friday in the Winifred Moore Auditorium at Webster University.

The showing is part of the Celluloid Couch film series during which a film is introduced and analyzed by a psychoanalytic professional. The goal is to offer interpretations and insights into movies from the perspective of analytic thought and theory.

IMDb describes "Shortbus" as a comedy-drama about "New York City-dwellers (who) come to the exclusive club Shortbus to work out problems in their sexual relationships."

The sponsors note that the unrated movie contains explicit sexual scenes that might be offensive to some. The only other known screening in St. Louis was at the Tivoli about five years ago. Friday's event is the first of many activities in June to mark LGBT Pride Month.

"The film really challenges people to look at some of their ideas about sex and sexualty and the role that sex plays in our lives," Hirshberg says. Showing the movie is useful, he says, because there has been a "historical disconnect" between psychoanalysts and gays and lesbians. The association "has been a little late in getting on board," he says.

According to Psychiatric News, the psychoanalytic organization rejected in 1987 and again in 1989 proposals introduced by psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Richard Isay to open training positions to gay and lesbian candidates who were open about and content with their sexual orientation. The group's position shifted in 1991 when it passed a resolution opposing "public or private discrimination" against homosexuals. But Psychiatric News says that the group stopped short of agreeing to open its training institutes to these individuals. That didn't change until 1992 when the association applied the provisions of the 1991 resolution to the training of candidates at institutes affiliated with the association, according to Psychiatric News.

Hirshberg cited the asssociation's resolution in 1997 calling on states "not (to) interfere with same-gender couples who choose to marry" and its 2008 resolution stating it "supports the legal recognition of same-sex civil marriage with all the rights, benefits and responsibilities conferred by civil marriage, and opposes discrimination against same-sex couples, and the denial to same-sex couples these same rights, benefits and responsibilities." In 2002, the association stated its opposition to discrimination based on sexual orientation in parenting and adoption.

Hirshberg, who will analyze the movie, says it was his idea for the two groups to sponsor the event.

"It was an effort to try to bridge these two communities. It helps people in the analytic community to be exposed to more LGBT issues, and it helps the LGBT community realize that there may be resources in the analytic community that could be helpful to it."

He adds that St. Louis in general doesn't know much about either organization. In addition to bringing the two groups together, he hopes the film "gives the general St. Louis population that chooses to go a chance to learn more about both communities."

Tickets for Friday's performance sell for $6. They can be bought at the door, or by calling 314-361-7075, ext. 351; or by visiting the institute's website.

Robert Joiner has carved a niche in providing informed reporting about a range of medical issues. He won a Dennis A. Hunt Journalism Award for the Beacon’s "Worlds Apart" series on health-care disparities. His journalism experience includes working at the St. Louis American and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, where he was a beat reporter, wire editor, editorial writer, columnist, and member of the Washington bureau.

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