June 4th, 2005

[MUSIC] Feist, "Inside and Out"

Of late, I've found myself irresistibly attracted to Feist's "Inside and Out." It's a catchy song, anchored by Feist's frail passionnate voice and piano chords, accented by the saxophone of one Frédéric Couderc and given a very smooth production. I wouldn't be surprised to discover that "Inside and Out" was slated to be Let It Die's breakout hit single. It's certainly catchy enough to make me sing along to it.

I'm not sure why I feel a bit ambivalent about this song. I don't think that the fact this song was originally written and performed by the Bee Gees weighs that heavily in my evaluation. It certainly shouldn't be that important, inasmuch as a good song is a good song. Perhaps it's the polish of "Inside and Out" that makes me skeptical about the song. Should a song about heartbreak and betrayal be so easy to listen to?

Baby, I can't figure it out
Your kisses taste like honey
Sweet lies don't gimme no rise
Oh, what you're trying to do

Livin' on your cheatin'
And the pain grows inside me
It's enough to leave me crying in the rain
Love you forever but you're driving me insane
And I'm hanging on
Oh, oh, oh, oh

No matter. I'll still listen to "Inside and Out," along with the rest of Let It Die. The music is still good for now, at least.

[BRIEF NOTE] What's wrong with gay blood?

Last Friday, zarq had a post up last Friday mentioning that gay and bisexual men in the United States can't donate blood. This is the case in Canada as well. The prohibition on blood donations was enacted in the mid-1980s at the very beginning of Canada's own tainted blood scandal. The HIV/AIDS epidemic began in Canada several years later than it did in the United States, and so too did efforts to protect the Canadian blood supply against contamination. Even after a test for the HIV virus became available, the Canadian Red Cross--then the agency responsible for maintaining Canada's blood supply--inexplicably delayed implementation. The result? Three thousand dead.

Canada's tainted blood scandal was only one of many scandals worldwide, with the French and Japanese scandals ranking alongside the Canadian in their sheer sordidness. Extensive investigations were made, charges laid, fines imposed on the Canadian Red Cross and compensation given to the victims, the Red Cross forced to give up its control of Canada's blood supply to Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec, and just this Wednesday the Red Cross formally apologized to the victims. Another consequence of the blood supply crisis of the early 1980s was the lifetime ban imposed on receiving blood donations from men who have engaged in any gay sex since 1977.

Among gay and bi men in Canada, this blanket ban has been a controversial issue (1, 2). I'd be lying if I said that I didn't understand the root sentiment, for blood is a potent cultural icon. Relationships of blood are said to define families; traditional nationalist movements have emphasized the nation's homogeneity of blood; Christian communion relates directly . It does hurt to be excluded from contributing to this real blood community. If you belong to a stigmatized and unpopular minority, it doesn't take much to believe that you're also being excluded from the metaphorical community of blood.

According to the final report (PDF format) of the Ontario Men's Survey, 12.7% of gay and bisexual men in Toronto are HIV positive. Assuming that the epidemiological data for 2000 cited by the United Nations, available at AEGIS' Canada page, are correct and that the data are comparable, this means that the average gay or bisexual man living in Toronto is forty-two times as likely to be HIV positive as the average Canadian. Levels of HIV seropositivity in Ontario drop to single-digit percentages outside of Toronto--in Ottawa, southern Ontario, northern Ontario--but even these rates are very high by global standards. It is true that improved HIV tests can detect the virus in a person's bloodstream much more quickly after infection than was once the case, but there is still a window between the time of infection and the time when HIV is detectable, estimated in 2004 at 11 days for a unit of donated blood. Another relevant finding of the Ontario Men's Survey is that one-quarter of HIV positive gay and bisexual men didn't know their serostatus. When you subject the idea of lifting the ban to a cost-benefit analysis, even if gay and bisexual male donors are entirely responsible the benefit (a slightly expanded pool of blood suppliers) doesn't come close to compensating for the cost (a considerably elevated number of HIV positive donors, and of blood recipients receiving HIV-infected blood).

Alas, personal experience has taught me that responsibility isn't as common as it should be. I wouldn't have been celibate for the past month, since my breakup, had the last two gentlemen who were interested in me and who I was interested in not made bareback sex a requirement. I'm not sure who was the more disturbing, he who insisted on barebacking, or he who didn't think it worth mentioning. I'd like to believe that this was a fluke and that a significant chunk of the population hasn't forgotten about safer sex education; but then, ACT Toronto does report that the number of HIV-infected gay and bi men in the Toronto area is growing by 2% a year. As Jason Kuznicki observed, it's a bit much to expect members of a persecuted minority group to not behave self-destructively. For that matter, as the massive heterosexual HIV/AIDS epidemic in southern Africa suggests, humans behaving like humans is all that it takes to cause a catastrophe. I just find it terribly depressing that Larry Kramer might be right. Again. Trust is a commodity that should be in short supply right about now.

What's my opinion about opening up Canada's blood system to donations by gay and bi men? I feel fear and dread. Give me the chance to choose between a unit of straight blood and a unit of gay blood and I'll pick the straight blood 99 times out of a hundred.
  • Current Mood
    very concerned

[MEME] One More Meme!

I've gotten this from Pearsall Helms. Things come in threes, don't they?

You're stuck inside Fahrenheit 451; which book do you want to be?

Since I don't want to be cremated alive, I'll opt to become the regime's core ideological treatise. That should last, shouldn't it?

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?

The very idea seems bizarre. Why would I be interested in someone who wasn't real?

What are you currently reading?

Anthony Arthur's Literary Feuds. Hellman versus McCarthy is spectacular, but Lewis versus Dreiser is also worthy of note.

Alexandra Robbins and Abby Wilner's Quarterlife Crisis - The Unique Challenges of Life in Your Twenties. What need I say?

Jon Ronson's Them: Adventures with Extremists. See my next post, really this time.

The last book you bought is:

Anthony Arthur's Literary Feuds. I've got such a backlog of books to read that I'm not going to buy any more for the time being. It isn't as if I have the time to read, either, but still.

The last book you read is:

Jon Ronson's Them. Next post, I promise.

Five books you would take to a desert island:

I notice that I'm not told how long I'll be on the desert island. This is important. Since I'll be concerned with remaining as human as possible, I'll bring along a modern translation of the Bible, my two-volume Norton anthology of English-language literature and my one-volume Norton criticism and theory anthology, and What Color Is My Parachute?. (I'll have to find a job some day.)

Who are you going to pass this stick to, and why?

bonoboboy, Jonathan Edelstein, nire_nagaf, Norman Geras, and rydel23. Each in their own way is an interesting person, and I want to see what they come up with.