A Twitter Example Of Homophobia And Irony
I recently received a tweet (Twitter message) filled with irony. Interestingly, I wouldn’t have seen it
among the thousands of messages if I wasn’t a subscriber to a service that automatically looks for references to my
Twitter persona (@MU_Gay_Prof) and forwards those to me.
A Little Background
I sent out this message designed to refer followers to a blog posting by a woman (Lisa Neff) on a blog
(365Gay.com) with which I am not associated.
365 asks why can’t we give blood? —
In 1985 the federal government ruled that gay men (or any man who had engaged in same sex sexual activities)
could not donate blood. This was during an era in which fear of AIDS was rampant, and there was no quick test
for the presence of HIV.
There is no longer any rational reason to disqualify all gay men from the pool of potential blood
donors. Heterosexuals are also impacted by HIV, particularly in certain ethnic and racial groups. It
makes no more sense to disqualify gay men from donating safely to the important blood supply that it does to
disqualify some straight person because he or she is part of some other higher risk demographic.
The Message I Received
ShadowDragon88 @MU_gay_prof because we don’t wan’t your fag blood
My first response, of course, was anger. When used by an “outsider,” the “f” word is offensive in the same
way as the “n” word is to African-Americans or, as some have recently learned, the “r” word.
The Historical Irony Of This Example Of Homophobia
Within seconds, though, my anger turned to sorrow regarding the circle of bigotry. In our society (and I
do not believe this is limited to the U.S. or even just Western cultures), the group that has most recently made
strides in achieving legal equality is often at the forefront of the reactionary urge of granting that equal status
to others who follow.
We have seen this play out in immigration. For example, the wave of Irish immigrants were treated as
second class citizens. When the Italian immigration wave began, many Irish led the social assault on the
Among the whites who joined to battle for racial equality in the United States in the fifties and sixties were a
disproportionately large number of homosexual men and women. I know this from reading the history and because
I was part of the latter years of that movement.
However, the homophobic tweet has an even more specific irony. In the days of segregation, blood donated
by white people was kept separate from blood donated by African-Americans. A fair number of African-Americans
were denied blood at hospitals when there was no “black blood” available. This problem was magnified by the
fact that, at the time, African-Americans were less likely to donate to the blood supply than whites.
I hope that once the LGBT community achieves full legal equality–and we shall, although probably not in my
lifetime–we are able to bring to an end this historical cycle of paying the hate forward. Human rights
struggles will continue once our battles are won. Let us promise to continue the fight for others even after
we have become victorious in our own.
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