I am a gay man. I have been shouting about that for so long on this blog that you will forgive me if I stress it again.
But I have been going through the world press and I am amused by something that seems to be ok for a Gay Ugandan. Apparently, there has been a big deal to say about donation of blood and organs in Canada , Britain , and the US.
You see, gay men are taken to be a problematic group. We apparently have so much HIV (!) that it is feared that if we donate blood, and our body organs, then we can spread it around. So, guys in the western countries have been making a lot of noise about their right to donate, blood and organs, 2.
On the other hand are the authorities. They say they are justified, because gay men have a higher rate of HIV than most other groups. So, to protect the rest of the public, they should not donate. But there are other issues to consider. Some of the bans are outright discriminatory. Like where one is never supposed to give blood if you ever had sex with another man (Britain and Canada). Others (Australia) give the last act of sex a year. (But hell, who goes to donate and starts saying when he last had sex with a man? Stupid law, in my opinion!)
In Uganda, the situation is different. Not many people donate blood. Sure, I do know, because it rarely comes on my horizon. And when you go to hospital, you may be informed, asked to bring 'donors' to replace the blood that you or your relative is given.
Fact is, I did donate blood once, sometime ago. I was amused when the counselor asked about my girlfriends, and assumed that I had a number. Actually, I just thought of the guy that I had slept with the previous night.
I was not asked about him. I did not know that I was putting whoever gets my blood at risk. I did not know, and did not assume that I would be at risk of HIV. Simple ignorance.
And you know what, the reason I went to donate the blood was I knew that it would be tested for HIV and I would get the results. Without coughing up any money, paying for the test. A painless way, (err, to the pocket. The pin prick was ‘negligible’. I didn’t jump or cry etc).
But, think of it this way.
In Uganda, the homophobia, official and unofficial, makes sure that I am invisible to the medical community. So, I do not know about the health concerns, including my risk. And of course, I cannot protect anyone with ‘my safe behavior’. Because I do not know what is safe.
And, the blood transfusion people will not dare ask about my boyfriends. They will ask about my girls, who number zero, so they will consider me safe, even if I tell them that fact.
The blindness of ignorance and prejudice.
I must say I am not very conversant with the problem of blood donations and infections as would result from gay men. I mean, I am not sure that I should be ruled out because I am gay. Maybe the fact is that some ‘phobes’ just fear having a part of me within them! Imagine, my blood going to Nsaba Buturo or Ssempa. They may reject it because it is from a gay man!
I will be very responsible.
I will not donate, until I am forced to. And of course if it is in Uganda, despite all the shouting that I have done on this blog, I am not gay because gay Ugandans don’t exist.
Stupid, yes, prejudiced, yes, but that is political correctness!