Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Because heterosexual blood cures diseases like the horn of a unicorn

Via NPR: FDA Proposes End To Lifetime Ban on Gay Blood Donors

Men who haven't had sexual contact with other men in a year will be allowed to donate blood under a policy change the Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday it will recommend.

In a statement, the agency said it had "carefully examined and considered the available scientific evidence" and will "take the necessary steps to recommend a change to the blood donor deferral period for men who have sex with men from indefinite deferral to one year since the last sexual contact."

A draft guidance recommending the proposed change will be issued in 2015, the agency said. There will also be a period of public comment.

A ban on gay and bisexual blood donors has been in effect since the early 1980s when fears about HIV/AIDS were widespread.

Gay Berlin: birthplace of a modern identity

An unprecedented examination of the ways in which the uninhibited urban sexuality, sexual experimentation, and medical advances of pre-Weimar Berlin created and molded our modern understanding of sexual orientation and gay identity.

Known already in the 1850s for the friendly company of its “warm brothers” (German slang for men who love other men), Berlin, before the turn of the twentieth century, became a place where scholars, activists, and medical professionals could explore and begin to educate both themselves and Europe about new and emerging sexual identities. From Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, a German activist described by some as the first openly gay man, to the world of Berlin’s vast homosexual subcultures, to a major sex scandal that enraptured the daily newspapers and shook the court of Emperor William II—and on through some of the very first sex reassignment surgeries—Robert Beachy uncovers the long-forgotten events and characters that continue to shape and influence the way we think of sexuality today.

Chapter by chapter Beachy’s scholarship illuminates forgotten firsts, including the life and work of Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld, first to claim (in 1896) that same-sex desire is an immutable, biologically determined characteristic, and founder of the Institute for Sexual Science. Though raided and closed down by the Nazis in 1933, the institute served as, among other things, “a veritable incubator for the science of tran-sexuality,” scene of one of the world’s first sex reassignment surgeries. Fascinating, surprising, and informative—Gay Berlin is certain to be counted as a foundational cultural examination of human sexuality.

Also Terry Gross interviews the author on NPR

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Under the Radar: Cocteau Twins on Blue Bell Knoll

This past week, I asked myself while listening to what Cocteau Twins I have on my laptop, "Gee, does anyone actually listen to the Cocteau Twins anymore?"

And the serendipitous answer came when I withdrew some issues of Under the Radar. In the November/December 2013 issue, featuring the nothing-but-legs band Haim on the cover, UtR ran an article in band members Robin Guthrie and Simon Raymonde discuss their sixth album Blue Bell Knoll.

"What you're trying to achieve is more," he says matter-of-factly. "At first you're just trying to make a record, and then you're trying to make a really good record. And then you're trying to go further.... Blue Bell Knoll was a really important record to me. It really sticks as one of my favorites. Perhaps not because of how it came out, although it is quite listenable, but because of the experience of making it."

Here's the full article plus…

From September 2014, the 9 essential Cocteau Twins songs.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Perfume Genius on NPR's 50 Favorite Albums of 2014

Robin Hilton via NPR

Mike Hadreas is a slight, soft-spoken soul from Seattle who's built his career on a bed of beautiful little songs meant to showcase his delicate tenor and intimate poetry more than any soaring production. But on Too Bright, his third full-length as Perfume Genius, Hadreas seems to say he's had enough and won't be taking your guff anymore. It's a fearless, often-angry assault from the singer as he takes on gender stereotypes, bigotry, suicide and homicide, various forms of self-loathing, lying, cheating and his overall disillusionment with the state of the world. There are still plenty of musical moments that tremble with breathtaking beauty on this record ("I Decline," "Don't Let Them In," and the title track in particular). But check out the anguished wailing in "Grid," the massive punch-in-the-face of "Queen" or the dark and sultry grit of "My Body." Too Bright is a bold arrival from an artist who, until now, seemed content to keep it quiet, but, apparently, was just waiting for his moment to strike.