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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 #Gay asks why can’t we give blood? #lgbt #queer #glbt #bisexualhttp://bit.ly/96iOuN

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

shadowdragon88ShadowDragon88 @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 Italian-Americans.

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.

Other 99Gay-Men Essays Concerning Homophobia

Homophobia (introduction)


Homophobia Internalized

A Couple Of Highly Regarded, Relevant Books





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