Monday, February 28, 2005

Blood Donor Policy

I posted last year about the discriminatory practice of denying all gay men the chance of donating blood. Regardless that many gay men are more aware of the risks of unsafe sex and take precautions the blood donor service still says I cannot donate blood, even though many heterosexual people have unprotected sex and present a much higher risk than I do.

The Portsmouth Herald (US) reports that the American situation is the same as the UK, but as the paper points out "There is an opportunity to rethink and refine policy restrictions. [organisations] …should diligently screen blood and risky behaviours. It should not screen people." Certainly, HIV and AIDS are no longer limited to gay males. Across the country and the world, the incidence of HIV infection is growing dramatically among heterosexuals, particularly females.

The Blood Donation services do need to screen risky behaviours that include having sex with prostitutes, sharing needles with other drug users and engaging in (unprotected) sex with men. However, even if a man engaged in sexual contact with another man only once since 1977, he is restricted from donating for life. This part of the policy does seem discriminatory. I am sure it is easier to simply implement a blanket policy than take the time to screen individuals, but I could have donated a hell of a lot of blood in the last 10 years if I was allowed.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Replacing gay troops cost military $200 million

The Indianapolis Star reports that the US military has spent more than $200 million to recruit and train personnel to replace troops discharged for being openly gay in the last decade. What!!?? This seems a crazy waste of money. It is another example of the Republicans spearheading a puritanical crusade against gay men and women. (OK I know the Democrats have been involved in this too - but it is not as much fun slating them!)

In the last 10 years, more than 10,000 service members have been discharged because they did not keep their sexual orientation to themselves as required. The Pentagon said this month that it discharged 653 service members last year for being gay, down 15 percent from 2003. The number of men and women discharged because they were found to be gay or because they disclosed their sexuality, has fallen three years in a row, the Pentagon statistics show. (well of course it has as you drive them out)
In a statement included in the report, the Defense Department said more service members were discharged for drug offenses, pregnancy and weight problems than for being gay.

Of course this is all backed up by fear evidence that gay men and women make less effective soldiers.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

MP denies asking for 'dirt' on gay rival

The Telegraph (I don't normally read this Tory rag - but a friend sent me the link!) is one of the many papers covering the story on a Labour MP accused of "digging the dirt" on a gay opponent.

Candy Atherton, the MP for Falmouth and Camborne, denied asking her gay researcher to collect incriminating personal information about the Tory candidate in her constituency who is also homosexual. Mrs Atherton explained that she had her researcher about her rival on one occasion last April after reading an article about him that referred to a court case in which Mr Crossley gave evidence about meeting a man in Soho, inviting him back to his flat in Wapping and subsequently being attacked by the man with a knife.

The MP admitted that some voters in Falmouth would disapprove of Mr Crossley's sexuality. But she insisted that she would never exploit that, adding ''I would not want any personal political gain because of other people's prejudice."

I love the idea of her researcher being part of an underground gay mafia who spy on political opponents. I can imagine the report now: "Yes Mr Crossley is gay. He is well known on the fisting scene and regularly flaunts his gayness in public places. He is, however, kind to animals and well-liked in breeder circles. Probably, little mileage in using his gayness as a blackmail tool."

Also I love the MPs name. If you were faced with a candidate named 'Candy' on the ballot paper it would be very hard not to vote for her!

Candy's website quotes her interests as "Candy is a sports enthusiast and particularly loves cricket. She is a keen bird watcher and enjoys boating. As a long-standing member of the House of Commons Yacht Club, Candy has recently been elected Commodore. When in London, Candy lives on a narrow boat, named the ‘Honourable Lady’!" All in all, she sounds like a geat MP (Oh yeah - you can also look at her voting record if her name is not enough to get your vote!)

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

What kind of Faggot are you?

I saw this via Itchycoo Park and of course I had to have a go!

I'm a Hunky Faggot!

I'm a Hunky Faggot! Oh hello. I am completely gorgeous. You may touch me for a nominal fee, although I’d prefer that you were at least as hot as I am. I was genetically engineered for pleasure. Mine.

What kind of Faggot are you?
Brought to you by Pushing Through

It is not often that I am decribed as a Hunky Faggot, so I'm lovin' this!

Free Arash and Mojtaba



A lot of you will be aware that today blogging is dedicated to the Free Arash and Mojtaba campaign.

These are two Iranian bloggers jailed for speaking out against recent arrests of cyberjournalists and bloggers. ARASH SIGARCHI and Motjaba Saminejad are both under arrest and the aim of today is to show support and help campaign for their release. The Committee to Protect Bloggers has details of how you can help.

This is a chance to show that blogging is about more than the latest films, porn and trials of a free life.

Committee to Protect Bloggers: THE COMMITTEE TO PROTECT BLOGGERS ANNOUNCES ITS FIRST CAMPAIGN: Free Arash and Mojtaba

Friday, February 18, 2005

Aaaaaarrrrrgggghhhhhh!!!!!!

I know it is a shit image – but this is how I feel! Friday 5.30 pm and no end in sight…


Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Kyoto Protocol

The Kyoto Protocol comes into force today. India and China are not signed up, given the recognition that it is developed countries that have the most chance to make a start on achieving the planned reductions in greenhouse gases. The EU has the best sign-up from all continents with many countries (including the UK!) making good progress in acheiving targets. This does raise the question of whether the targets are high enough to achieve realistic change.



The US, which is the biggest polluter (both per capita and in absolute volume) refused to sign the protocol, potentyially scuppering the whole thing.
Some individual states, notably California, have made changes to reduce greenhouse emissions, but once again we have an example of Bush and the (pseudo dictatorship) Republicans putting their economy before the environment. No surprise there then. You can read Bush's justification for this in a saccharinely sweet press release here. The weasel says "Our country, the United States is the world's largest emitter of manmade greenhouse gases. We account for almost 20 percent of the world's manmade greenhouse gas emissions. We also account for about one-quarter of the world's economic output. We recognize a responsibility to reduce our emissions. We also recognize the other part of the story, that the rest of the world emits 80 percent of all greenhouse gases, and many of those emissions come from developing countries." Yes - baby George - but the rest of the developed world has agreed to make some changes, and don't you think that your developed and rich nation is in a better position to make changes than developing coutries?This is in spite of recommendations from his own scientists that the US needs to do more. Words fail me...well actually they don't but I am not sure I want a whole paragraph of expletives.



There are changes that we can make as individuals to help reduce emissions. Make a difference - A US site!) suggests some individual actions that you can take to help reduce the increase in greenhouse gases.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Me and my Tool Belt

Today at college there have been a number of workmen around the building, installing new walls and doors. One guy has had me all of a lather by floating around the building in a T-shirt and standard issue blue workman’s overalls. I had forgotten how much work-wear turns me on. Brickies, chipies, sparkies etc have a natural appeal that I realise I am not unique in finding attractive.

With this in mind a couple of friends bought me a professional tool belt a couple of years ago. My partner had tipped them off, although I think that they were pretty sceptical that it would be a good gift. I think that my reaction when I opened it convinced them that they had made a good choice. I take any excuse to use it, even when the job in hand only really needs a screwdriver. I will kit myself up and adorn myself with spirit levels, pliers, a tape measure and duct tape. I think my boyfriend was hopping that I would team the tool belt with cut-off denim shorts, a wife beater vest and a huge erection. Unfortunately, I take my DIY very seriously and rebuff all attempts at tom-foolery as I shove my pencil behind my ear and debate the relative merits of 6 inch wood screw versus a mighty wallop of a claw hammer and a rust nail.

I vow to make better use of these props (yes honey – you are on for some fun – finally!) and ensure the workwear and tool belt get the fully spunk-fest they deserve!

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

The Ballad of T.J. and Ruth

It is that time of the month again, when I spend a week in Birmingham for my MSc. This is the last module of the two years, which have gone very quickly. I am studying advanced health economics, which given I struggled with the introductory economics course, has been easier than I expected.

One of the characteristics of my time away is eating on my own in restaurants. This isn’t half as bad as it sounds. I tend to have a couple of glasses of wine and take a good book, occasionally tuning in on random conversations of fellow diners. One conversation tonight was particularly interesting and I have to admit to taking a few notes as I eavesdropped on their little tête-à-tête.

Picture the scene: little French restaurant, well OK, ubiquitous chain Café Rouge. A couple are sat at the next table, probably early forties, no wedding rings and dubious ‘leisure wear’ e.g. ‘Ruth’ has a lovely cowl necked jumper a la Deirdre Barlow/Rachid and ‘T.J.’ is wearing narrow fitting jeans (apparently ‘drainpipe jeans’ is no longer the correct terminology), trainers (are they hi-tech?) and a fetching green fleece. Ruth tends to speak quite quietly so I only really hear T.J.’s side of the conversation, in spite of staining my ear and inconspicuously (I hope) leaning towards them.

T.J. Let’s get this sorted for once and for all. Sue is a very important part of my life and that will never change. That’s the last word I’ll say on the matter. (At this point their steak frites arrive – stage right).

T.J. Do me a favour and hold judgement until you meet her. She knows all about you.

T.J. C’mon then – I dare you. Meet her.

T.J. For the next two hours I don’t want to hear her name.

Through this Ruth is responding – but is obviously determined that I only hear one side of the conversation. T.J. cannot help broadcasting his side of the conversation for the whole restaurant to hear. After munching their way through the steak the conversation resumes.

T.J. Do you really think I’ll leave you – is that what you’re worried about?

Ruth nods, eyes downcast. At this point I want to lean over and offer an impromptu counselling session, but my duck arrives so I decide to leave the Miriam Stoppard moment for later.

T.J.
You don’t need to worry about that you silly sausage (how cute?!) – that’s not going to happen.

I miss a little of their dialogue as a rowdy French accordion medley assaults my ears. I decide to take advantage of the interlude and scoff my duck and order a second glass of wine.

Ruth (Yes, I caught one of her whispered exchanges) I’m sorry, I’m sorry.

T.J. There are two sides…I know exactly how much she loved her husband – he shafted her over though. She was on her knees begging – “please talk to me” and he walked out on her. (By this time I really want to know what T.J.’s relationship with Sue is. Is she a colleague, an ex, a mutual friend?)

T.J. He hurt her and he hurt her children (I really hate this guy – whoever he is)

T.J. You are so precious to me, I don’t want to lose that. You always think something is going on – I’m not being off with you Ruth, but these suspicions are unfounded.

T.J. Have you ever been in a situation where you care for someone else?

Ruth (Obviously piqued as her voice raises to a murmur. By dropping my knife on the floor I manage to catch her reply) Not when I am with a partner, no. No.

I miss a good fifteen minutes of the conversation as two Brummies join the next table drowning out the conversation with their discussion about eyeshadow, Tony the mechanic and whether lace tights look too slutty with a mini-skirt. T.J. and Ruth are now on their second round of Calypso Coffees, which disappoint me by looking just like a regular coffee with cream and not being accompanied by a Calypso band.

By now we are the only diners in the section so I decide to be a little more discreet by paying attention to my book. I order an espresso and they order their bill. The next thing I know T.J. is sobbing, Ruth is holding her hand and I have slopped coffee in my saucer.

T.J. They all knew, I trusted her (sob…sob) I… I can’t deal with it.

(Frantic hand holding, bosom heaving (Ruth, not T.J.) and searching for Kleenex.)

T.J. (as they get ready to leave) Ruth, thank you for everything. Sorry I’ve been a wimp tonight.

Ruth
You haven’t been a wimp. You’re a human being – don’t apologise for that.

With that, they leave. I have a glowing admiration for Ruth and I wish, (inwardly), them luck for the future.) After that exchange my evening seems to have reached a natural conclusion so I down my coffee, figure out what is a reasonable, but not overly generous, tip and head back to the hotel.

I am sure that I have either missed a career as a private detective or I am one of nature’s natural nosy-parkers. I vow to eavesdrop far more often as I realise that the conversations of strangers are far more interesting than any soap opera.

Friday, February 04, 2005

If you go down to the woods today...

I have been hearing about a new film - 'Cachorro' or 'Bearcub'. It is a Spanish movie (made in 2004) set in Madrid about a gay dentist Pedro (Jose Luis Garcia-Perez) put in temporary charge of his 9-year-old nephew Bernardo. After Bernado's mother gets busted for drugs on a trip to India, Pedro must take on the role of father.

A recent review desribed it as a movie that "is anchored by Garcia-Perez's low-key performance as a man who appears comfortable with himself. By and large, the world is, too. Snatches of dialogue recall a painful past, especially when references are made to a former lover who died of AIDS. The universal strength of "Bear Cub" is that homosexuality, while integral to whether Pedro and Bernardo will stay together, is not all that the story is about. It speaks to any community of friends or any single person who takes on the responsibilities of raising a child."

It sounds pretty good, although I haven't seen it advertised anywhere in the Uk yet. Anyone know any more about this?


Tuesday, February 01, 2005

First Pictures

Finally got the first pictures of my new baby niece - she looks gorgeous - can't wait to see her!