Tag Archives: gay

Whose history?

Gay and lesbian historicism has all too often used gender transgressive individuals to create gay history, yet argued that gender transgression is not in and of itself important, instead assuming that gender transgressive behaviour and cross-gender positioning were taken up for the specific purpose of engaging in a homosexual partnership or ‘lifestyle’, excluding the possibility that gender transgression was engaged in for more complex reasons.

This is political work. To show that homosexuality has existed in all times and places and, in certain times and places, has been socially accepted, even revered, gay historians argue for social tolerance and acceptance of homosexuality (fair enough). However the way such histories have been written is to privilege homosexuality at the expense of transgenderism.

radclyffePat Califia explains: It does not further our understanding of human sexuality to press for recognition of homosexuality throughout history at the expense of recognizing other sexual minorities. The history of their oppression is as valid as our own, and if gay male and lesbian scholars deny that history, we are as guilty of censorship and prejudice as any straight anthropologist who chooses not to report homosexual activity.

Such gay historicism was (and is) a part of the gay liberationist project, which sought to separate sex, gender and sexuality, in defiance of the early sexologists’ assertion that gender inversion was a manifestations of same sex desire. Here, the contradictory tensions of gay historicism are revealed: on the one hand it seeks to escape the equation of homosexuality with gender inversion, and on the other it needs to use stories of heroes from the past who had just such an embodiment. Perhaps gay historians hope by locating homosexual gender inverts in the past, they can keep them there. However, in arguing that sexuality is not necessarily linked to gender inversion, gay historians have gone too far by removing the importance of gender transgression all together, thereby dislocating historical links between gender and sexuality, the effect of which is to render impossible a transgender history.

Writing a transgender history that does not exclude homosexuality, such as that of Leslie Feinberg in Transgender Warriors, is crucial work that still needs to be done. Historical figures cannot simply be ‘taken back’ and named ‘transgender’. Histories need to be constructed that acknowledge that these people were, and are, important because they were different: different because they had same sex desire and engaged in same sex relationships and different because they transgressed the expectations of their sex.

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Gay Blood Ban

Positive change required

As a guy who likes sucking cock, I found it not only offensive but pretty difficult to answer the National Blood Service’s question: “Are you a man who has had oral or anal sex with another man (even if you used a condom)?”

Answering yes to this question results in a lifetime ban from donating blooddonate-blood

For me, mostly it’s the kind of cock that one isn’t born with. Secondly, I know I’m not the kind of man ‘that counts’ to them anyway. Thirdly, I do always use a condom and I really think that should count for something. (A dear friend of mine got herpes as a teenager and that shit lasts forever. No thanks. Really, it’s worth it). Also, women can have cocks too you know.

The NHS, supported by leading AIDS charity Terrance Higgins Trust, says that men who have sex with men (MSM) present a high statistical risk of having HIV and this therefore justifies the lifelong ban on MSM donating blood. They claim that this is not discrimination: “The reason for this exclusion rests on specific sexual behaviour (such as anal and oral sex between men), rather than the sexuality of the person wishing to donate. There is, therefore, no exclusion of gay men who have never had sex with a man nor of women who have sex with women.”

So their justification of why gay men are excluded is not because we’re gay but because we have sex? Nice one.

The truth is: anal sex is a high-risk activity for transmitting HIV, and unprotected oral sex is high-risk for other STIs, such as syphilis or herpes. But it is also true that not all gay men have anal sex, and lots of heterosexual people do. While it may be the case that more men who have sex with men are at risk of contracting HIV, it is not because they have sex with men, but because they have unsafe (or less safe) sex.

So, a question that (actually) doesn’t discriminate on the basis of sexuality, but on risky sexual behaviours, would be: do you practice anal sex or unprotected oral sex (regardless of the sex or gender of those involved)?

In their lengthy justification for supporting the ban, THT state: “The Blood Service policy does not imply, nor is it based on the assumption, that all gay men are promiscuous.”

And continues: “not all assumptions are wrong… It is unfortunate that generalisations have to be made and that people have to be categorised and grouped, but we accept that in this instance it was not done in a judgemental or discriminatory fashion.” ahhem.

By assigning people to social categories, rather than dealing with them as individuals, the THT and NBS reinforce negative stereotypes of gay men as promiscuous, dishonest and ‘unclean’. This is institutionalised homophobia, regardless of their claims that it’s not.

To sign a petition to lift the blanket ban on MSM donating blood, go to www.bloodban.co.uk.

For the full explanations given by the NHS and THT, go to:

www.blood.co.uk/pdfdocs/position_statement_exclusion.pdf

www.tht.org.uk/binarylibrary/blloddonationsbypeopleathigherriskofhiv.pdf

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