Richard A. Isay (December 13, 1934 – June 28, 2012) was an American psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, author and gay activist. He was a professor of psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College and a faculty member of the Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research. Isay is considered a pioneer who changed the way that psychoanalysts view homosexuality.
In 1983, as chair of the APsaA’s program committee, Isay organized a panel called “New Perspectives on Homosexuality”. Isay argued that homosexuality is a normal variant of sexual identity, and that psychoanalysts should stop trying to change the sexual orientation of their patients, which he considered injurious, creating a firestorm of controversy. “Several analysts walked out”, Isay later recalled. Isay soon became the first openly gay member of the association.
Isay wrote widely on the subjects of psychoanalysis and homosexuality, including texts such as Being Homosexual: Gay Men and Their Development. Being Homosexual was one of the first books to argue that homosexuality is an inborn identity, and the first to describe a non-pathological developmental pathway that is specific to gay men. It is widely considered a breakthrough in psychoanalytic theory and an important, historical work.