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Andrew Mattison & David McWhirter

By exploring a subject that had personal and societal implications, Andrew "Drew" Mattison (Aug. 5, 1948, Brooklyn, Queens County, New York, USA - Dec. 29, 2005, San Diego, San Diego County, California, USA) helped bring gay relationships into the media spotlight.

Teaming with his life partner of 34 years, Dr. David McWhirter, Dr. Mattison wrote the ground breaking book "The Male Couple," an in-depth study evaluating the quality and stability of long-term homosexual relationships.

Published in 1984, before AIDS became a scourge in the gay community, the book gained international attention and landed Dr. Mattison and his partner on the TV and radio talk-show circuit.

"No one had done the research before," McWhirter said. "We became authorities on couples, invited to speak all over the world."

Dr. Mattison, a medical psychologist, psychotherapist and educator, went on to help found the first federally funded research center dedicated solely to studying the effects of AIDS infection on the brain.

The HIV Neurobehavioral Research Center opened at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine in June 1989.

By exploring a subject that had personal and societal implications, Andrew Mattison helped bring gay relationships into the media spotlight. Teaming with his life partner of 34 years, Dr. David McWhirter, Dr. Mattison wrote the ground breaking book "The Male Couple," an in-depth study evaluating the quality and stability of long-term homosexual relationships. Mattison died of stomach cancer at 57. McWhirter, who was 16 years younger than Mattison,  died of a stroke less than 7 months later.

Dr. Mattison, who was diagnosed with stomach cancer in summer 2004, died Dec. 29 at San Diego Hospice. He was 57.

In 2000, Dr. Mattison expanded his research to include the study of medicinal marijuana. Before becoming ill, he was co-director of the University of California Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research, which he co-founded.

"He was always thinking about the future (and) 'What more can we do?' " McWhirter said. "He was doing more on the federal level, trying to get funding for research."

The cannabis project, launched with $3 million in annual state funding, was designed to test whether marijuana helps patients who have cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, nerve damage and other conditions.

"Drew was a genuinely caring person," said Dr. Igor Grant, director of the research centers. "Even though most of his work was in the gay community, he was very interested in minorities and people affected by HIV generally."

At UCSD, Dr. Mattison became a catalyst in promoting a working relationship between researchers and the gay community.

"He created an important atmosphere to foster that research," Grant said. "In some communities, there is antagonism, suspicion, between scientists and activists. We have not had that; he had a lot to do with teaching us how to work with the community."

By providing feedback to investigators from research participants, Dr. Mattison helped ensure that the clinical research became what Grant called a "true collaboration."

In addition to his research roles, Dr. Mattison maintained a private practice in psychotherapy and had served since 2001 as a clinical professor of psychiatry and family and preventive medicine at UCSD.

He taught human sexuality to UCSD medical students, served as a psychological program consultant to Thurgood Marshall College and contributed to UCSD's Substance Abuse Committee.

With McWhirter, Dr. Mattison wrote extensively on counseling gay couples and the effects of HIV on lesbians, gay men and their families. In recent years, Dr. Mattison researched the phenomenon of "circuit parties" among gays – large gatherings at which risky behaviors such as unsafe sex and drug use are suspected.

The behavior at the parties, Dr. Mattison discovered, was not as high-risk as many thought.

"More recently, he was concerned with intervention – getting the message on safe sex to that subgroup who get into risky behavior," Grant said.

Dr. Mattison was a technical adviser and later president of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality, the oldest professional organization dedicated to the advancement of knowledge about sexuality.

Andrew Michael Mattison was born Aug. 5, 1948, in Brooklyn, N.Y. He earned his bachelor's degree in English literature from Fairfield University in Connecticut.

After a year in Volunteers in Service to America, he pursued graduate work at Stony Brook University in New York. Graduating with a master's in social work, Dr. Mattison went on to earn his doctorate in psychology at U.S. International University in San Diego.

"The day after he received his diploma, he was hired by UCSD," McWhirter said. His first assignment: teaching residents at the school of medicine how to approach patients, ask questions and deal with the families of patients.

In the late 1970s, Dr. Mattison and McWhirter, a psychiatrist, began researching the relationship dynamics of gay couples. "It took us five years to collect the data," McWhirter said.

Their book was translated into German and French. In addition to appearing on the Oprah Winfrey show and other TV and radio programs, Dr. Mattison and McWhirter were among the first gays to discuss homosexuality in India, where they addressed the International Congress of Sexology.

Videotapes of their interviews with gay couples were used as teaching tools in medical school settings, and copies were sent to the Kinsey Institute at the University of Indiana.

Dr. Mattison became ill after returning in 2004 from Italy, where he had attended a professional conference and later vacationed. "His first day back, he collapsed on a treadmill," McWhirter said.

A runner, swimmer and horseback rider, Dr. Mattison appeared to be the picture of health at about 6 feet 2 and 180 pounds, friends said. "He was dedicated to eating well and watching his blood counts," McWhirter said.

After being diagnosed with stomach cancer, he was told he had from seven to nine months to live. In surviving for about a year and a half, he beat the odds with the kind of optimism that characterized his life.

"He was not ready to give up," Grant said. "He was always looking for options. But his cancer had already spread." (Obituary By Jack Williams, STAFF WRITER, Union-Tribune San Diego, January 15, 2006)

As early as the 1970s, Dr. David McWhirter (March 29, 1932 - Jul. 28, 2006, Rancho Mirage, Riverside County, California, USA) was redefining attitudes toward the study of human sexuality.

"He helped demythologize sexual problems, making them legitimate issues in psychiatry," said Dr. Igor Grant, director of the HIV Neurobehavioral Research Center at the UCSD School of Medicine.

Dr. McWhirter taught human sexuality to students in psychiatric residency programs at the University of California San Diego.

He also did research on the dynamics of homosexual relationships in the pre-AIDS era. The research, in collaboration with his life partner, Drew Mattison, spawned a 1984 book, "The Male Couple," a groundbreaking reference on issues of fidelity, monogamy and emotional attachment.

"No one had done the research before," Dr. McWhirter told The San Diego Union-Tribune last year. "We became authorities on couples, invited to speak all over the world."

Dr. McWhirter, a psychiatrist who maintained a private practice in San Diego until 2003, died July 28 at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage. He was 74.

The cause of death was a stroke, Grant said.

Dr. McWhirter had years of experience in the psychiatric and academic fields before launching his book project with Mattison, a medical psychologist, psychotherapist and educator.

Mattison and Dr. McWhirter devoted five years of research to their book, which was translated into German and French. Videotapes of interviews they conducted with gay couples were used as teaching tools in medical school settings, and copies were sent to the Kinsey Institute at the University of Indiana.

In 1987, Dr. McWhirter was appointed medical director of the County Mental Health hospital in Hillcrest. It was a troubled time for the psychiatric hospital, which a month earlier had lost its certification for Medicare payments after an investigation uncovered inadequate care.

Under Dr. McWhirter's leadership, the facility moved in 1989 from an old building that contained 60 beds to a 109-bed building in the Midway District. It reopened under the name San Diego County Psychiatric Hospital.

Dr. McWhirter served on Kinsey's Science Advisory Board and was president in 1986 and 1987 of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sex. He was appointed to two statewide AIDS task forces and was named a fellow in 1985 of the American Psychiatric Association.

"David was very well-connected in both the psychiatric and gay communities," Grant said. "He was very interested in AIDS prevention and in supporting the (HIV Neurobehavioral Research Center). He was helpful in getting our message to the community and in preventing the town/gown tensions that sometimes occur with research of this type."

Dr. McWhirter, who moved from a downtown San Diego condominium to Rancho Mirage earlier this year, was born March 29, 1932, in San Jose.

He earned a bachelor's degree in biology at Loyola University in Los Angeles and earned his medical degree at the University of Southern California.

In 1970, he moved to San Diego from Los Angeles, where he had been assistant director of adult inpatient services at the Los Angeles County/USC Medical Center. He became an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at UCSD in 1976 and opened a private psychiatric practice in 1983.

A marriage in early adulthood produced two children. He found a life partner in Mattison, who died in December at age 57.

"David is best remembered for his kindness, his public service and his gentleness," said longtime friend Naved Khan. "He was considered a leader in the gay and lesbian community."

Dr. McWhirter enjoyed entertaining and preparing meals for guests.

"He was a great cook, anything from Chinese food to Italian," Kahn said. (Obituary By Jack Williams, STAFF WRITER, Union-Tribune, San Diego)

McWhirter and Mattison’s personal and professional collections are housed in the library of the University of California, San Diego’s LGBT Resource Center.

Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time by Elisa Rolle
Paperback: 760 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (July 1, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1500563323
ISBN-13: 978-1500563325
Amazon: Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time

Days of Love chronicles more than 700 LGBT couples throughout history, spanning 2000 years from Alexander the Great to the most recent winner of a Lambda Literary Award. Many of the contemporary couples share their stories on how they met and fell in love, as well as photos from when they married or of their families. Included are professional portraits by Robert Giard and Stathis Orphanos, paintings by John Singer Sargent and Giovanni Boldini, and photographs by Frances Benjamin Johnson, Arnold Genthe, and Carl Van Vechten among others. “It's wonderful. Laying it out chronologically is inspired, offering a solid GLBT history. I kept learning things. I love the decision to include couples broken by death. It makes clear how important love is, as well as showing what people have been through. The layout and photos look terrific.” Christopher Bram “I couldn’t resist clicking through every page. I never realized the scope of the book would cover centuries! I know that it will be hugely validating to young, newly-emerging LGBT kids and be reassured that they really can have a secure, respected place in the world as their futures unfold.” Howard Cruse “This international history-and-photo book, featuring 100s of detailed bios of some of the most forward-moving gay persons in history, is sure to be one of those bestsellers that gay folk will enjoy for years to come as reference and research that is filled with facts and fun.” Jack Fritscher

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( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 29th, 2013 11:09 am (UTC)
Have you read this book, Elisa? It looks intriguing. I don't know how well it reads thirty years later though. Some non fiction books are ageless.
Dec. 29th, 2013 11:19 am (UTC)
No I haven't, but I read some controversial about it, basically they based their theory on the concept that homosexual relationships are different from heterosexual relationships. Their approach was positive, they were pro-longterm relationships (of course), but anti-gay-marriage groups use this essay to proof that same-sex marriage wasn't to be legalize cause it wasn't a "real" marriage. So maybe, even now, it could be interesting to read it.
Dec. 29th, 2013 12:04 pm (UTC)
Sounds thought-provoking, challenging. Thanks for the further information. I'll see if my library has it. I wonder if he would write the same book today.
Dec. 29th, 2013 01:10 pm (UTC)
A lot changed, and there is also to consider the essay was pre-AIDS era, but he died in 2005 and if he didn't change it, maybe he was still convinced his theory was right.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )


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