From the NYT Book Review of last Sunday (May 10th), bits from two reviews that caught my eye: Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts reviewed by Jennifer Szalai; and Speak Now by Kenji Yoshino (a memoir combined with analysis of the same-sex marriage case) reviewed by Lincoln Caplan. I haven’t read either book (though I’ve read and posted about other things by Yoshino). But I was intrigued by the reviewers’ comments.
Archive for the ‘Gender and sexuality’ Category
In response to possible Russian submarine intrusions in Swedish waters, a playful Distractify posting “Sweden’s New Defense Strategy Against Russian Submarines Is A Gay Dancing Sailor” by Myka Fox. A neon hunk:
“Light in the loafers, heavy in the briefs” says the posting.
Heavy in the briefs — a big package — is clear in the photo. What about light in the loafers?
(Warning: some frank talk about sex here.)
In the NYT on the 13th, a news brief from Washington, “F.D.A. Proposal Would End Ban on Blood Donation” by Sabrina Tavernise. In its entirety, with the crucial phrase boldfaced:
The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday released its proposal for scrapping a decades-old lifetime ban on blood donation by gay and bisexual men. The proposal was criticized when it was first announced, in December, because men who have had sex with men in the last 12 months would still not be allowed to give blood. The limited prohibition is comparable to rules in many European countries, but critics said it did not take into account modern diagnostic tools that can detect H.I.V. infection as early as nine to 11 days after exposure. The contested part of the proposal remains unchanged in Tuesday’s version, which details the policy and is open to public comment for 60 days before a final decision. In a nod to transgender Americans, the proposal allows donors to report their gender; under current policy, eligibility is determined strictly based on a donor’s sex at birth.
My comments here are not about the substance of the policy (for the record, I agree with the critics of the new “limited” prohibition), but about the interpretation of “men who have sex with men”: what, exactly, do people who use this expression mean by “have sex with”, and how do those who hear it or read it understand it?
It turns out that the interview protocol the FDA uses doesn’t ask about “having sex with” another man but about “having sexual contact” with another man — but without explaining what that expression means.
I’ve been in this territory on this blog before, about “having sex with” versus “having sexual relations with” someone in questionnaires.
A posting yesterday, “Oliver Sacks and Sexuality”, about Jerome Groopman’s NYRB review of Sacks’s On the Move: A Life, with considerable discussion of Sacks’s homosexuality — and the stunning cover of the book, with a 1961 photo of a hunky Sacks on his motorcycle. Now, two more reviews, one with another hunk photo, the other with personal recollections from a friend.
In the May 21st New York Review of Books, a touching review (“The Victory of Oliver Sacks”) by Jerome Groopman of the neurologist’s autobiography, On the Move: A Life. A complex, restless, passionate life, full of accomplishment — and now soon to come to an end, as Sacks revealed in a clear-eyed essay (“My Own Life”) in the New York Times in February.
One thread (of many) in this life is Sack’s sexuality. When his beloved mother learned that he was gay, he reports in his book, she thundered, “You are an abomination. I wish you had never been born” and then never spoke of the matter again. Sacks writes now:
her words haunted me for much of my life and played a major role in inhibiting and injecting with guilt what should have been a free and joyous expression of sexuality.
That was in the England of the 1950s, when, as Sacks emphasizes, homosexuality was treated not only as a perversion but as a criminal offense. Many years later, at the age of 77, he found love with a male partner.
We think of Sacks these days as a genial graybeard (which he certainly is):
But here he is in Greenwich Village in 1961, a rebellious hunk in his leathers, in a photo chosen for the cover of his autobiography:
Back on 11/11/14, I looked light-heartedly at naked calendars for charity, focusing (given my predilections) on calendars with naked hunky guys (carefully posed to avert X-rated images); I started with one called Hunks and Horses. Now I discover, on Facebook, that I have missed World Naked Gardening Day (which was on May 2nd this year) and, in a separate enterprise, the Perennial charity calendar of naked gardening guys,
The most recent Scenes from a Multiverse (available on-line here) tackles the task of the U.S. Supreme Court:
The legal issues here are genuinely complex, but apparently SCOTUS isn’t contemplating undoing the same-sex marriages that have already happened as a result of judicial actions (as opposed to legislation or popular vote), though it could conceivably let stand existing bans in some states.
Then there’s the question of extending protections against discrimination based on sexuality to those jurisdictions that don’t now have them — or not.
And there’s more.