Steven Canals Places Gay Rights Center Stage on New FX Series

Steven Canals Places Gay Rights Center Stage on New FX Series

Steven Canals, the creator of Emmy award-winning FX TV series, Pose, has signed for his latest project on FX. The premise will focus on the plight of LGBTQ+ rights in America among the U.S. intelligentsia. The new series, 81 Words, will unfold the true story of Frank Kameny and Barbara Gittings.

Stephen Canals bringing the story of Drs. Frank Kameny and Barbara Gittings to TV.
Gittings and Kameny
Source: Legacy Project Chicago/File

If you haven’t heard of them, these two are considered true heroes among gay leaders for putting their careers on the line. They believed the psychiatric community needed to tackle a word — the medical definition of “homosexuality.”

Steven Canals has been nominated for an Emmy and actually won a Peabody for writing the critically acclaimed Pose, starring Billy Porter and MJ Rodriguez.

However, tackling the script based on Alix Spiegel‘s complex This American Life will be a completely different undertaking.

The This American Life installment, 81 Words, brings to life the heart-wrenching story of Kameny and Gittings. They believed the American Psychiatric Association (APA) were completely wrong for how they considered homosexuals. In 1974, the APA believed gay people were “sexually deviant” and diagnosed them as “mentally ill.”

Steven Canals’ Voices 81 Words

Source: American Psychiatric Association, 1972

The 81-word definition of sexual behavior was highly contested from the 1950s through the 2000s when America finally got woke. Unfortunately, before Alix Spiegel got involved in telling this story, few people outside of the then-ostracized gay community knew about the brave exploits of Drs. Kameny and Gittings.

So, why Spiegel? Her grandfather was among the psychiatrists who stood with Kameny and Gittings, risking their credentials for what was right. Specifically, Spiegel’s grandfather was the president-elect of the APA at the time of the change. So, there’s that.

That will surely end once Steven Canals gets his capable hands around the writing of what is sure to be an eye-opening series for FX. The series, while no direct quotes have been taken at this time, will surely follow the story of those two psychiatrists and how they believed being “gay” didn’t mean what their “bible” said it did. Ultimately, Steven Canals will take us on a journey to when the APA Board of Trustees voted to remove homosexuality from the official list of psychological disorders on December 15, 1973.

Canals will write and executive produce the project under his Story Ave. Productions banner, with Elisabeth Seldes and Neri Tannenbaum executive producing via Pal Pictures. SInger, Sammon, and Spiegel will produce. 20th Century Fox Television, where Canals is currently under an overall deal, will serve as the studio. (Source: Variety)

Featured Image Credit: JoJo Whilden/FX/GQ Magazine

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