Intended for healthcare professionals


Michael King: prolific researcher and one of the first doctors to “come out”

BMJ 2021; 375 doi: (Published 29 October 2021) Cite this as: BMJ 2021;375:n2628
  1. John Illman
  1. London, UK
  1. john{at}

Renowned as brilliant, kind, and humorous, Michael King helped to transform University College London’s division of psychiatry into an international centre of excellence. A gay man, he was among the first doctors to “come out.” In characteristic forthright and courageous fashion, he attacked medicine for perceiving homosexuality as a diagnosis to treat. Speaking on a podcast for the University of Melbourne in 2017, he said: “I think it’s been one of the most stigmatising prejudicial things to have happened.”

The popular perception may be that society is increasingly more accepting of diversity, but King questioned how much deep rooted prejudice had been exorcised, fearing that Russia and some east European countries had gone backwards because of their homophobic leaders.

He said: “Homophobia from childhood onwards has severe and long lasting effects, making people vulnerable to suicide, even people who seem to be in stable relationships. Parental attitudes and support is one of the strongest predictors of trouble in youth or in your 20s as …

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