Wednesday, 17 September 2008


This article examines the issue of MRSA (antibiotic-resistant staph infection), and how the media reported it -- as a new menace to the gay community. I can still remember first hearing about it from a veteran of the leather scene, her silver-haired, wrinkled face knotting in worry. "It's a skin infection," she said. "You can get it anywhere. We scrape and abrade skin, it's how we play. If it comes here, we're all doomed. That could kill us all."

I don't know when she got into leather, how many years she's been around. But I could see ghosts in her eyes, and I knew exactly whose they were.

I remember going home, terror gnawing at me. All my life I've had the suspicion, deep in the kernel of my soul, that maybe the fundies are right. Maybe VD is "recompense for our iniquity," growing in our skin.

When someone I knew developed a rash I lost it. I was convinced doomsday was upon us all. I called my doctor, half-panicked. MRSA. Is it coming?

I looked it up online. I found more references to gyms and sports teams than to swingers, sadomasochists, or evilly promiscuous queers. Huh, I thought.

I got the call back from my doctor. No, no way. That's people in hospitals, mainly, he said. Some people in the community get it, but not many. If he had a doctor look already, I wouldn't worry much.

And I just sat there shaking and wondering. Why are these plagues always supposed to be about us and for us? The queers, the swingers, the leatherfolk, the people who are too easy and "deserve" it? Why do we make the news? Why do we take cover before anyone even knows what's going on?


thene said...

What the crap?

MRSA is a long-brewing scandal in Britain, but I've never heard it referred to as a gay issue or a kink issue there; instead it's framed as a matter of hospital staff hygiene, and produces useless non-remedies like 'deep cleaning' (whatever that means, it doesn't work because so many staff carry the disease to work every morning).

Maybe this is a mostly American phenomenon? Perhaps the framing of illness as being connected to supposed immoralities is less strong in places that have free public healthcare, because perceived morality (at least in strongly Protestant societies) is so tied up in social class and financial clout.

Marc B. said...

Same here in Germany, MRSA is an issue for hospitals and has reached into main stream media occasionally in connection with sloppy hospital hygiene. Never heard about it in regard to kink or the gay community.

Trinity said...

Yeah, it made the news here as The New Gay Plague, though I think that's pretty much died down now and people are talking about gyms and sports teams.

Lindsay1984 said...

MRSA + BDSM= Total bullshit

Don't f-ing get me started.

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