Big news for gay men’s health makes it into our ‘Best Of September’ list.
Well, another month has passed by with lighting speed and the last rays of sunshine have slipped through our fingers – it is officially autumn! So now on to the best and the very worst of September 2011!
- All the way back at the start of September the UK government announced the lifting of the lifetime ban on gay blood donations. The change in the law met with some scepticism, as the new rules still prevent any man who has had protected or unprotected oral or anal sex with another man from giving blood for 12 months, in order to limit the risk of hepatitis B transmission. Andy Wasley, So So Gay’s Editor-in-Chief, welcomed the decision saying ’it is undeniable that the Government has made a step in the right direction.’
- Hot on the heels of the blood ban announcement was the news that the government intends to hold a consultation on the introduction of full gay marriage in England and Wales – and not before time. The prime minister, David Cameron, was said to have personally intervened to push the policy through, and it was announced – purely by coincidence, we’re sure – on day one of the Liberal Democrat Autumn Conference. The announcement was welcomed by Stonewall but they were also keen to point out that this consultation had been postponed twice already. Let’s hope the government stick to their word!
- And in a triple whammy for equal rights, we can’t ignore the end of the US’s outrageous Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, which banned gay military personnel from being open about their sexuality. To celebrate the end of the policy one soldier took to YouTube to make that phone call to his dad. Of course, we backward Brits have been able to serve openly for rather a while longer – and, as a number of gay servicemen and -women from the RAF told So So Gay earlier this year, the sky hasn’t fallen in. We’re sure everyone in the Home of the Brave welcomed the news. Didn’t they?
- In great news for Irish gay rights, Senator David Norris is back in the race to become Irish President. Norris – nominated as one of So So Gay’s LGBT Heroes in February - secured the backing of Dublin City Council in a last effort to secure the nominations he needed to stand, meaning he is now in the race against sixth other candidates. Norris had previously withdrawn from the contest after allegations surfaced about a letter he had written to the Israeli authorities defending a former lover who had been convicted of the statutory rape of a 15-year-old Palestinian boy. Since then Norris has been quoted as saying ‘I deeply regret the most recent of all the controversies concerning my former partner of 25 years ago, Ezra Nawi.’
- Hangout Harry‘s gay youth group from Preston delivered a letter to Downing Street during September. The group cycled from Preston to London to highlight the need for cooperation in communities to provide safe spaces for LGBT people in the face of government cuts. The group has survived through business and LGBT organisations working together to sustain the support being offered.
- We can’t be too modest about this - Stonewall picked So So Gay as one of five titles short-listed for the charity’s Publication of the Year Award. It’s all in the hands of the judges now – we’ll know if we need to crack open some fizz on 3 November. Fingers crossed…
And now for the worst…
- The shadow of homophobic bullying reared its head in America again in September when 14-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer committed suicide. Jamey had regularly posted on his Tumblr blog about being bullied at school and had received a huge amount of homophobic abuse through Formspring. Jamey’s mother said ‘he was the sweetest, kindest kid you’d ever know. He would give all his heart to you before he gave any to himself’. Jamey had recently recorded an It Gets Better video which will surely bring a tear to most eyes. Let us hope that he is the last teenager we have to lose through the ongoing nightmare of homophobic bullying.
In at number two, we’re pleased to welcome back our winner of last month’s worst of August. Michele Bachmann, our very favourite Republican presidential candidate – who earned the title ‘George W Bush in Drag’ here on So So Gay not so long ago – has again been busily defending the ‘pray away the gay’ clinics which she owns with her husband. Bachmann appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno to announce that the clinics don’t ‘discriminate’ against anyone. Poor dear. Someone buy her a dictionary…
- And for a bit of balance to the great news about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell… of course, not everyone in the States welcomed DADT’s repeal. As Republicans get ready to anoint their candidate for next year’s general election, GOP voters at a Fox News debate showed their patriotism by… erm… booing at a gay soldier. Nice. Really nice.
- The North Carolina House of Representatives voted in favour of putting a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage to voters next year. The law at the moment does not permit gay marriage in the state, but some politicians are attempting to include the ban in its constitution. It is expected that the state-wide vote will take place in May, and a recent poll suggests that 61 per cent of residents think gay marriage should remain illegal. Hopefully between now and May people’s feelings will have changed.
- And, lest we think injunctions against gay marriage is still mainly a US problem, over here the Archbishop of Glasgow, Mario Conti, has come under fire this month for attacking gay marriage. The Herald reported that Conti said that the change in the law would render the word marriage ‘meaningless’ as there would be no possibility of a ‘natural family’ – which is, he says, one of its attributes. Who knew? Childless straight couples must be delighted…
- A Christian café owner in Blackpool has been visited by police after a customer made a complaint about some of the religious messages he had been displaying which condemned homosexuality. Jamie Murray, the café’s owner, has not been asked to remove any of the messages but instead had a discussion with officers surrounding the legislation that is in place about public broadcasts or displays. Murray is now seeking legal advice with the support of The Christian Institute and has been reported as saying ‘I’m not here to insult or offend anyone, but the Bible is the Bible.’ Well, equality is equality. We win. We hope.