parada ponosa 2005
FUCK YOUR GENDER
BLOODGIVING OR BLOODSUCKING: LESBIANS COLLECTIVELY DONATING BLOOD
AS A POLITICAL ACTION
(This lecture was given at the Intimate/Sexual Citizenship: Every
life of Gays and Lesbians' Conference in Ljubljana, October 2005)
If you are interested in
this project or would like to take part in it by donating blood,
until January 2006.
Good afternoon and welcome to the second most homophobic country
in the world. The first one for You is, i assume, Your own country,
the one You come from.
Even though these words of welcome are rather cynical, I want to
express my most sincere and profound solidarity with all the oppressed
social groups and individuals that are gathered here today. Because
what I do is, I look at the pain brought by homophobic oppression.
And in this respect I look at what has been confined to the personal
and try to transform into political.
My situation is this: I wanted to organize a blood giving session
that would involve lesbians only. Unfortunately, and to my great
frustration, there remains only bloodsucking so far. How come? The
political action which was meant to take place in September 2005
actually could not happen because only two people applied. Nevertheless,
the idea of this action persists and over these next few minutes
I would like to share its many dimensions with You. Hopefully, some
of You might find it suitable enough for Your own context and could
use it. Let me state first that what i want to present here is more
of a draft idea, but this will give us more time to debate, which
is something i am really looking forward to.
So, let me explain what stands behind the idea of lesbians collectively
donating blood first, then I will explain the basic social context
in Slovenia and then my reasons why i find it a good practice.
The basis for this action grew out of an explicit individual homophobic
disqualification. The idea evolved that it can be proved to all
homophobes who display their rights to exclude, discriminate or
humiliate homosexuals that there is at least one point where they
cannot eliminate or simply avoid them. It is clear that one can
publicly display his/her right not to go for a coffee with a homosexual
or refuse to mix in any way with them, but the most elegant part
of the blood donating activity is the fact that none, even the most
furious homophobe can exclude her/him self out unbearable possibility
to receive life saving blood from a homosexual for instance. Same
goes for nationalist, racist, sexist etc.
Are You interested to hear what was an explicit homophobic disqualification
that made my marbles in the head start to clank?
Once upon a time in 2003 me and my girlfriend were invited to spend
our vacation on a small, romantic island in Dalmatia…
By the way, the above mentioned refusal to go for a coffee with
a homosexual was a widely well known exclusion statement made by
a gentleman who became a vice-president of the Slovenian parliament
in the meanwhile if we name only one of his notorious discriminatory
statements. He is the next one who is about to get my lesbian blood.
Actually the event itself was supposed to be a media action. And
I am still dwelling on the idea of a small performance accompanying
it. It should simply be given in a form of ritual chant over the
pot of boiling water, where women would drop the leaves of various
red flowers. The ritual saying would be: “I give my blood to the
man who spat on my face when i was fifteen and walked through the
park with my first girlfriend hand in hand.” Or: “I donate my blood
to the professor who called me frigid in front of the classroom
for being a lesbian” “I give my blood to my parents, mother and
father who had thrown me out of the house when i came out at the
age of sixteen.” And so on…with an aim to name the most typical
exclusions lesbians face. Then such tea (along with the sugar) would
be served to the media representatives.
It is of a great political importance to show other citizens that
lesbians as women and as nonheterosexual women, inevitably, do take
a vital and equal role in society, such as tax paying, social and
other community work etc. In this way the greater visibility but
at the same time also the very importance and vitality of a lesbian
existence is manifested. In this way an average, let*s call this
passively, homophobic person might get the idea that would otherwise
have never occurred to them; it is not only that “we” don’t mind
what they do in their beds as long as …, but even more that a lesbian
is not only a hyper sexualized - phantomic creature but that in
a certain, persistent sense she is a citizen who can justly and
rightly demand her citizen*s rights for a nondiscriminatory treatment.
And it is of great political importance that the rest are willing
to accept and support her to fulfill this right.
This is the political core of this action. At the same time we must
not forget to take into consideration also the symptomatic fact
that gay men are not allowed to donate blood in the second most
homophobic country in the world. It is obvious that as usual the
officials do not even mention lesbians. As though they didn’t exist.
It is time that authorities consider the consequence of this minor
ideological overlook. I dare to assume that it is quite unlikely
to expect the ban on the lesbians would be given as a result. Still
in many law texts of many governments this might be the only mention
of this civil category at all.
We can move now from political to more philosophical and the social
realm of the phenomenon of lesbians collectively donating blood.
Besides its strong political gesture when a lesbian as a subject
is involved, donating blood has also a strong but naive humane and
nationalistic aspect to it.
Governmental strategy remains completely, so to say, socialist in
its character while fixating a donor activity solely in the sphere
of individual humane action. So far a donor in Slovenia does not
get paid for the donation of blood or blood tissues and cells (it
is actually illegal to offer money for it). This is another important
dimension of the current situation since it places the donor*s act
in a highly moral position. They do it for the sake of the benefit
of other co-citizens. Lesbians can make use of it.
Naturally if this were the whole story, there would never be enough
blood on the Slovenian market. If we look closely, it is true that
people do not get paid in cash but get some specific benefits, such
as a day off from work, a day off from school, a day off from army
service (before Nato). As one can see all of the benefits are replaced
from the direct responsibility of the government*s health system
to its institutions: employer, the school, the god etc. While for
example a healthy unemployed person can do with a sandwich and reimbursement
of travel costs. None health insurance benefit is meant for donating
blood (i am not aware of donations of other medical suppliances).
Lets not go further this way but shortly conclude what a closer
look reveals, is a fact that instead of having only human to human
relationship there is an actual tripartite net of same figures,
which underlines every (medical) donation: the citizen in need -
the state - the humanitarian citizen. The law that regulates the
circulation of blood as live tissue does not mention selling of
those products but an exchange with another country or within a
humanitarian help to another country in need is possible. What can
i say; a lesbian is potentially giving blood as well to a global
By these means, donation is not a universally reciprocal deed and
one-s moral imperative intermingles with an unethical epilogue.
This is a clear case that when a lesbian donates blood she donates
it not only to a homophobic citizen in need but above all to her
homophobic country or homophobic society in general. Such a perversion
can be named bloodsucking.
Let*s scan some points and some statistics.
As mentioned above this action is suitable as well as a promotion
against racism, nationalism, sexism, ageism etc. since the logic
is the same. It can be done with no budget and costs and persons
involved do not need to be out to participate in media coverage.
5% of citizens of Slovenia are blood donors, which is Europe*s
average. Two thirds of donors are male, one third are female.
Statistically every 5 minutes someone from Slovenia needs blood.