Tag Archives: lesbians

Lesbian smear campaign

Lesbians can catch cervical cancer.

If you have trouble understanding that sentence then you may find that, throughout your life, simple stuff generally confuses you. Don’t be alarmed to find out that most people probably think you are a twat. The likely cause of this is that you probably are.

You see, if even a layperson struggled to understand the above statement, I would be shocked. It’s not exactly a revelation is it? (PS Did you know that women and straight men can get AIDS too?). So to face such ignorance from a qualified professional took some beating.

Today I went to a Family Planning Clinic (Why? You might ask… lesbians can’t have kids can they?), to discuss why once a month I turn into Regan at the drop of a hat and cry at episodes of Jeremy Kyle. I meet with a nurse who is friendly enough.

She asks what I use for contraception and I politely explain that I don’t really need any – ‘I’m gay.’ ‘Brilliant,’ she replies, more than a little flustered.

On we go with the questions… ‘Are you pregnant?’

‘Err… no. Not unless my girlfriend has a big giant invisible cock.’ I didn’t say that though. I just shook my head.

‘Have you ever had a cervical smear?’

‘Yes,’ I reply, thinking that they were compulsory and remembering the dozens of letters I’ve had from my GP urging me to make sure I have regular smear tests.

‘Have you really? Why on earth would they do that? I mean, you don’t need one do you? How funny.’

At this point, my cervix probably blushed, it’s hard to tell, but my face certainly did. ‘I was sure that every woman over a certain age has to have a smear test.’

‘Really?’ Yes, that’s what the NURSE actually said to me.

‘I don’t think sexuality has anything to do with getting cancer.’

‘I suppose not,’ she pondered.

Now, forgive me for condemning this woman. She was pretty nice other than this and didn’t intentionally mean to make me feel hugely uncomfortable in what was a pretty personal and private meeting anyway. But I could not go so far as to say that her comments or attitude were harmless. Far from it – she directly implied that as a lesbian, I do not require regular, if any, cervical smear tests and therefore that I am not at risk from cervical cancer.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that this is bullshit in its rawest form. It’s staggering that a health professional, whose job it is to inform vulnerable women about sexual issues, could be so discriminatory and ignorant at the same time.

Sadly, this isn’t an isolated case. Diva magazine did a feature on this very thing not that long ago.

According to this, statistics show that a woman’s risk of cervical cancer is cut by 84% if she has a smear test every five years, and 91% if she has a smear every three years. It’s estimated that NHS cervical screening saves more than 1000 lives each year.

A British Medical Journal editorial published in 2003 said: “An unfortunate perception exists among healthcare providers and women who have sex with women that they don’t need regular cervical smears… sexual intercourse with men is a powerful risk factor for cervical cancer. However, it’s important to counter the erroneous assumption that women who have sex with women aren’t at risk of catching human papillomavirus. Around one in five women who’ve never had heterosexual intercourse have human papillomavirus which is associated with developing high-grade cervical intraepithelial neoplasia” – in other words abnormal cervical tissue development.

So please, don’t ever be fooled into thinking that because you sleep with women and not men that you can’t develop cervical cancer.

It is more than just a myth. It’s a lie that puts lives at risk.

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Not enough gay girls on film

ellenIt’s Saturday night. Soho is bustling with crowds, all jostling down the cobbles, flashes of colour and lots more besides.

I’m sitting with Vernon Kay and wondering what his wife is like is in bed.

No, not another of my warped dreams, it is in fact, a reality. The Bolton Wanderer is on the TV and the images of Soho are a distant memory in the back of my mind.

It’s Saturday night, and I am sitting in, playing along with a gameshow that used to be on when I was 12. It’s like one elongated menstrual cycle with lots of pain.

Flicking through the TV guide (the printed one, I am rejecting digital until they force it on me in 2012), I see Graham Norton, people jumping over a giant totem pole in lycra, John fucking Barrowman, Graham Norton, Little Britain, more lycra, and did I mention Graham Norton?… I mean, no wonder I am thinking about Tess Daly in a gimp suit (joke, honestly).

But seriously, what the hell am I supposed to do? If I want to see another lesbian, it’s either hop in a cab, watch Bad Girls for some pretend ones, or that increasingly all-too-familiar friend, the internet.

Now, maybe if I did have cable, then I could watch The Ellen Show on repeat or catch a glimpse of a lesbian in Gray’s Anatomy, but I don’t. And I won’t for that matter – it’s a completely baseless point of principle, so don’t ask me to explain, I just like to feel outraged from time to time.

Am I asking too much? In a word, no. Lesbians aren’t an endangered species, but I am more likely to spy one up a mountain, right behind the snow leopard on the BBC’s Planet Earth. So where the hell are we on the small screen?

I’m not talking about the fake ones either – in Hollyoaks, Eastenders etc. I mean, I don’t turn up my nose at these, but it’s a bit like booking a magician for your birthday and ending up with Derren Brown.

What about good old Rhona Cameron I hear you cry? She’s been holding up the entire UK lesbian quota for the past decade it seems, and even she has disappeared down a big L-shaped hole of late. Christ, the poor woman is probably in The Priory for exhaustion.

So who else does that leave representing Britain? Like UHU, I’m stuck. Answers written on the back of a postcard, or maybe a stamp, please.

This really is a national disgrace.

Gay men get on TV more easily than dust. They present primetime TV shows and although they are usually made to come across like crotchless Action Men – gay in spirit, humour and manner, just not in bed – at least they get a look in.

Children growing up, exploring their feelings, look up to people on television as role models. So who are our young lesbians looking up to? Pat Butcher? Now I’m not saying life wouldn’t be easier if all lesbians didn’t wear pink earrings and bitch slap Babs Windsor for a laugh – it would certainly make them easier to spot – but this is a serious issue and one that broadcasters should be taking head on.

It is great when big TV dramas include lesbian storylines, but why not use some gay actors for once? Why are they always straight and pretending? It shouldn’t make a huge difference, and if we were represented substantially, I wouldn’t even be making this point, but we’re not, and it sucks.

Maybe we like to hide our lights under our (ahem) bushells, but why are we not doing something on our television screens regularly, and why when it is, is it always sexual? I mean Christ, there must be a few cat lovers willing to go on Pet Rescue or something.

By sitting back and watching on in silence, we are driving our lesbian youngsters underground; forcing them to seek their only solace in YouTube clips, blush in front of an Emmerdale liplock with their Mum watching on, steal copies of Diva off the top shelf, and have to laugh at silly films by silly boys about vampires.

So unless Tess Daly is about to come out live on the lottery, which is about as likely as my numbers coming in (or Derren Brown predicting his own demise), things aren’t looking promising for my night in. As some bloke called Simon Cowell said recently, Britain has got talent – let us remember, that some of it is, in fact, lesbian.

So a round of applause to that Cowell bloke for taking on America’s most recognised gay woman, Ellen DeGeneres, and giving her a judging role on the biggest TV show in the land, American Idol. Sexuality aside, I am sure she will be a great judge and make a very humorous contribution.

Shit, is American actually becoming the land of the free? Black presidents and gay women on American Idol? With Cameron waiting in the UK government’s wings like Fagan with a hard on, ready to steal our money and our morality, Britain runs the risk of going back to the Stone Ages. As much as it pains me to say it, we should follow America’s example and promote minorities (especially good looking ones – joke) as beacons of hope for the rest of us, who are sat at home in their pyjamas, plotting to kill Graham Norton in despair of it all.

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