81 Words: Pose Creator, Steve Canal, New Show–Homosexuality as Mental Illness (LGBTQ)

Steven Canals will examine the historic effort that succeeded in changing the status of homosexuality, from being classified as  mental illness to its declassification in 1973.

‘Pose’ Creator Lines Up Another LGBTQ-Focused Show for FX

Steven Canals will examine the historic effort that changed homosexuality from being classified as a mental illness.

Rodin Eckenroth/WireImage

The writer-producer is developing 81 Words, a limited series exploring the historic effort by  medical professionals to change the definition homosexuality from being classified as mental illness.

Canals, the Emmy-nominated and Peabody-winning co-creator of Pose, will write the script for the drama that is based on Alix Spiegel’s award-winning This American Life episode “81 Words.”

Here’s the official logline: “Until 1974, the medical establishment considered gay people sexually deviant and diagnosed them as mentally ill. 81 Words tells the true story of gay activists Frank Kameny and Barbara Gittings, who risked their career and reputation to conspire with the GAYPA — a clandestine group of closeted psychiatrists — and challenge the American Psychiatric Association’s definition of homosexuality.”

The This American Life installment — which is also serving as the inspiration for the forthcoming PBS Independent Lens documentary, Cured, was directed by Bennett Singer and Patrick Sammon.

For FX, Canals will pen the script and exec produce, via his Story Ave Productions banner, alongside Elisabeth Seldes and Neri Tannenbaum of Pal Pictures. Spiegel, Singer and Sammon will also produce the potential series, which is currently in the development process via 20th Century Fox TV.

The first project to stem from the deal Canals inked with Pose producers 20th Century Fox TV is 81 Words.

Season three of Pose is among the sprawling list of film and TV projects that were forced to shut down amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. FX’s Pose, which explores the ballroom culture of the 1980s and ’90s, is Canals’ first show. The series, which was co-created by Ryan Murphy, has picked up multiple Emmy and Golden Globe nominations and earned star Billy Porter an Emmy win in addition to cementing him as a fashion king of the red carpet.