Freshly Doug Wednesday

University of Texas-Austin students Bobbi Duncan and Taylor McCormick were accidentally outed when the head of the LGBT choir added them to its Facebook group without their consent. He didn’t know that Facebook would automatically broadcast the information to all their Facebook friends – including their parents. Normally, getting added to groups is just an annoyance, but this time it had serious consequences, causing major blow-ups in the students families. Facebook – fix now please.

And while we’re on the subject of young people, another US state has followed California’s lead, with the introduction of a bill to ban so-called ‘reparative’ therapy for teens.  Pennsylvania State Rep. Babette Josephs (D-Philadelphia) has introduced a bill that would ban mental health providers from offering “gay-to-straight” reparative therapy for minors. Here’s a job for our Greens in Parliament (since Labor will undoubtedly be too chicken to upset its ‘religious’ supporters) – ban it in Oz, too.

It’s disturbing to hear that, while quack ‘medicine’ such as reparative therapy still exists, specific courses on GLBTI health are few and far between in US medical schools, and often pretty superficial.  To help plug the gap, the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association assembled a task force of its members to create a comprehensive guide for health professional schools to teach their students, faculty and staff about LGBT health care. The problem now is to persuade the schools to devote enough time to the subject.

The Red Cross is still adamantly refusing to take blood from sexually active gay men – even when they’re monogamous – and people who lived in the UK during the mad cow years of Margaret Thatcher’s rule.  A post on their Facebook page revealed – ‘in error’ – that they think all gay men have risky sex, everyone who gets a tattoo is infected by dirty needles, and all Brits carry mad cow disease. A deletion and apology swiftly followed. The Red Cross constantly bleats about being short of blood, but won’t spend a cent of their massive income on instituting a full suite of testing and control measures to detect unsuitable donors, preferring instead to maintain blanket bans and exclude many perfectly safe and usable donations.

In other news: a senior British cleric compares the ban on gay marriage to apartheid; yesterday I wrote about gay rights fighters needing money – The Advocate pleads movingly for people to give their time; and advertisers leak back to Alan Jones, only to back away again when called out.

And new figures emerged showing that HIV infections are on the rise: see Miles Heffernan’s three-part series here on The Stirrer looking at issues in HIV prevention and management: watch out for more from Miles and myself in the coming days, as the Melbourne HIV conference opens. Use our new Subscribe button to become a Stirrer and stay in touch.

And last but not least, a shout out to Rami Mandow and his Community Brave Foundation, giving time, money and skill to building our community.


About the author

Veteran gay writer and speaker, Doug was one of the founders of the UKs pioneering GLBTI newspaper Gay News (1972) , and of the second, Gay Week, and is a former Features Editor of Him International. He presented news and current affairs on JOY 94.9 FM Melbourne for more than ten years. "Doug is revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities, at times dividing people with his journalistic wrath. Yet there is no doubt this grandpa-esque bear keeps everyone abreast of anything and everything LGBT across the globe." (Daniel Witthaus, "Beyond Priscilla", Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, 2014)