19 May 2003

Polluted body

One of my best friends from college did this recently.  What he did saved the life of a man he never met.

I’m happy for him, for the man whose life he helped to save, and I am proud that he could do it.  He’s a giving guy, and always has been.  This is in his character, and I can’t imagine he wouldn’t do it.

But permit some narcissism for a minute.  I could never do such a thing.  Not because I wouldn’t be willing, but because I am gay.  Current federal regulations do not permit men who have had sex with other men since 1977 to donate blood, blood products, organs, marrow, or pretty much anything.  This occurs because we are in a statistically higher risk category than straight people.  But this commits the common fallacy to infer individual characteristics from group characteristics.  If I were straight, my blood would be accepted and the tested, no matter how many women I had slept with.  But as a gay man, I could have had sex with one other man, and I am categorically forbidden from doing this good.

My body and what comes from it, thereby, are polluted.  The gifts that I can give to help others out — blood, organs, whatever — are tainted by the fact that the donor has conducted an activity that many regard as requiring disapproval.  In some sense, by being gay, my body is a poison to be controlled, rejected, and isolated.

I’m happy for Matt.  But as much as I feel that, it also reminds me that pollution prevents me from ever doing the same.

Posted in Politicks on 19 May 2003 at 3:19 pm by Nate