Tag Archives: lgbtiq

Being queer and (not) donating blood

I can’t donate blood because I am married (and have sex with) a man who has sex with men (mostly a man, but sometimes other men).  Regardless of how safe our sex lives are, regardless of all the rules we have in place to keep us disease free, we can’t donate blood.  My husband, because he has sex with men (mostly his husband), and me because I have sex with my husband.

But that’s where the scrutiny stops.  My other husband (the straight one) and my girlfriend can all go and donate blood, because they aren’t having sex with someone who is male who has sex with other men.  The scrutiny stops one jump beyond even those the disease vectors don’t.  I’m unable to find the classic HIV ad that was screened in Australia (on YouTube at least) which asked if you knew who your partner’s previous sexual partners were, and were you safe from HIV.

My tribe practices safe sex.  We have strict rules, which include regular STI testing, to keep ourselves free from diseases and to protect each other.  We trust each other and practice full disclosure, so it feels like a bit of a slap in the face when the Red Cross doesn’t do the same.  I do get that 65% of new diagnoses of HIV are from men who sleep with men (2009), and if you take the ultraconservative number of queer people in Australia to be 5% of the total population, then that’s slightly more than one in every 1000 gay men who are diagnosed with HIV – odds that those who rely on blood transfusions don’t want to have to face.  Therefore banning (deferring as it tends to be put) men who have sex with men from donating blood is easier than well all of the other options.

But to tell men who have sex with men that if they remain male-sex free for 12 months then they can donate blood is… well… rude.  “Hello men who have sex with men, I know that you enjoy it, may be in a long-term, monogamous relationship with that man that you’re having sex with, but we treat all queer men the same, so when you’re next celibate for 12 months then we’ll think about letting you back in our club.  In the mean time, go on and do that thing which is risky and leads to us rejecting your blood.”

Of course, the other problem with the whole thing is that if my husband was not bisexual and we were still openly polyamorous, I could go and have risky sex every weekend with whoever I wanted, and donate blood.  The Red Cross’s rules are based on statistics and not actual behaviour.  Because more men who have sex with men are diagnosed with HIV than any other group, all those queer men who are in monogamous relationships or who practice safe sex are discriminated against, as are their female partners (if they have them).  All heterosexual individuals who engage in risky sex don’t have to worry about being banned from donating blood (should they want to).

There has to be a better way of dealing with this.  Of capturing information about STI status from existing STI tests, of asking questions about relationship status, and asking questions about the type of sex engaged in by those who wish to donate blood.  Perhaps instead of being squeamish about asking questions or providing answers to such things, we should be more open about STI status, sexual history and relationship status, especially when it comes to essential supplies.

 

UPDATE:  I’ve just been alerted to this great story of a man being turned away from donating blood in the US because he “appeared” gay.  The story also has more on the banning of queer men from blood donation.

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38th Down Under Feminists’ Carnival

Down Under Feminists' Carnival Logo

Hello everyone and welcome to the 38th Down Under Feminists’ Carnival.  Thanks for all the fantastic submissions and to everyone who wrote all the fantastic articles I’m linking to.

If at any point I have misnamed, mislabled, or misgendered someone, please let me know immediately so that I can correct my error If I have included a post of yours that you would not like included, please let me know and I will remove it.  Should any of my links be broken, just let me know and I’ll attempt to fix it.

Continue reading 38th Down Under Feminists’ Carnival

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Dan Savage is still biphobic

Dan Savage wrote a piece in The Stranger this week, claiming that he’s not biphobic and that the problems that bisexuals face are mostly their own fault (no really). The comments on this piece are really good too.

The tagline for this article is:

You Need to Come Out to Your Friends and Spouses—Now

Well thanks Dan for that order, I’ll get to it right away… actually no, you can stop dictating what I should and should not do, what bisexuals should and should not do.  I tend to not read a whole lot of Dan Savage’s writing, I find him annoying, biphobic and judgemental.  I don’t know if he orders other members of the LGBTIQ community out of the closet, but surely issues of safety and the like would prevent most people ordering others out of the closet (granted this doesn’t seem to factor in the thinking of the media who happily out politicians, celebrities and other public figures if they think they can get away with it).

Continue reading Dan Savage is still biphobic

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Rip and Roll – the continuation

I wasn’t going to blog about this, I really wasn’t.  Of the three topics I had handed to me on Friday (swearing fines, Penny Wong being miaowed at, and Rip Roll), I decided to focus my efforts somewhere other than this topic – as it had been covered very nicely in the media as well as elsewhere.  But then the ACL stuck their head up again today, and I can’t not smack them for it.

Lyle Shelton, an apologist for the ACL it seems, had a piece published on ABC’s The Drum, today called, “Abusive labels and slurs no substitute for real debate” (user comments afterwards really good).  Excuse me while I take this apart.

Continue reading Rip and Roll – the continuation

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An open letter to Geoff Shaw and the Victorian Liberal Party

Dear Mr Shaw (and Mr Baillieu),

I am appalled that you responded to Mr Quilligan’s email with the following:

You state that you ” want to work, live and love freely during the course of my life, and I want to do that without thinking that I can’t”. What if I loved driving 150kms per hour in residential areas? What if there was a convicted sex offender who stated that, or a child molester? Can they still do what they want? Under your statement the answer is yes.

You equated a consensual adult relationships to two illegal activities.  Last I checked (regardless of what you actually feel about the topic), same sex relationships were not illegal – however paedophilia and speeding are both illegal activities with a great deal of societal harm attached to them.  So you suggested that Mr Quilligan’s desire to “love freely during the course of [his] life” was the equivalent to a paedophile or sex offender raping someone.  Seriously?  Were you thinking straight when you said that?

Continue reading An open letter to Geoff Shaw and the Victorian Liberal Party

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The “It gets better” project

This is going to be a really quick post, because I have only one criticism of the project.  I love what people have done, and I am amazed at the honesty that people displayed about the difficulties they faced as queer people growing up.  I’m really grateful that the initial valid criticisms of the invisibility of bisexual and trans* stories in the project were addressed.

There is one big, big problem I have with this project though – “It gets better” is a hard thing to tell someone who is suffering now.  “It gets better… eventually” is a really hard thing to hear when you are being bullied now.  “It gets better in 5 – 10 years” is an impossibly long time for someone who is being bullied at school today (do you remember how long a year was when you were 13?).

What I would have loved to have seen included in this project – and yes I know it’d be region specific – is “It gets better, and right now if you need help you can find it [here] or [with this type of organisation]”.  Or even better, “It shouldn’t be like this for you now, and we’re working on making it better for everyone today – and right now if you need help you can find it [here] or [with this type of organisation]”.

Because telling someone that they have to wait through several more years of erasure, bullying, harassment, pain, suffering, rejection, depression, suicidal idealisation and the like is not reasonable, fair or nice.  It’s time to help LGBTIQ youth today and not patronise them with “It’ll get better eventually”.  It’s time to stop bullying today, and not tell people that eventually the bullying will end.

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