By QoC, February 28 2020—
Have you ever encountered the situation, as a 2SLGBTQ+ person, when you think your rights, safety and very existence is being challenged? Near Valentine’s Day, several members of the Graduate Student Association’s Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA2) asked themselves if posters for their upcoming event — the annual Anti-Valentine party — were being censored by Canadian Blood Services (CBS) or was there simply no space for other posters?
MacHall and the surrounding hot spots for postering your club’s events are usually covered with colourful and vivid images trying to advertise and attract you to choose their event. But despite the numerous advertising boards, it is always challenging to find the right spot. Day after day new posters appear on the boards. The rule of thumb, or rather the etiquette for those who hang the posters, is that you do not cover other advertisements unless the events have already passed.
The GSA2 wanted to promote their upcoming 2SLGBTQ+ event and so they added multiple posters across MacHall and Science A & B’s boards. Only a day later one of our members was walking around campus and noticed quite alarmingly that several of the posters had been covered by a very heteronormative CBS event poster, whose imagery included a young couple kissing in a blood drop encouraging them to come on a date and donate blood on the same day as the Anti-Valentine party. This could have been a simple misunderstanding but as they continued to walk around, they noticed that almost every single one of the GSA2 posters had been covered.
Now yelling this is homophobia might feel like an exaggeration, but let us remind you that CBS continues to enforce homophobic policies with regards to who they let donate blood. Since the AIDS crisis in the 90s, CBS has banned men who have sex with men (MSM) from donating blood claiming outdated and frankly bigoted research that MSM are likely to have HIV+ blood. We not only feel like this is anti-gay propaganda but wondered what were the CBS members trying to say? Do they want to censor our love, relationships and sexuality? Are they disgusted at the idea that queer folx want to celebrate — or protest — an incredibly capitalist, hallmark holiday? Or did they think we shouldn’t exist on campus?
A couple of GSA2 members/activists approached CBS on Twitter, posting pictures of the incident asking for answers. CBS representatives contacted GSA2 soon after claiming space was limited (space is always limited) and the placement was unintentional. Covering one poster by mistake is okay but what about four or six?
While it might feel like we are over exaggerating, let me ask you straights this, how often do you occupy the world constantly terrified that your relationships, your sexual interests and your spaces are opposed and targeted? Unless you are a member of another marginalized group, probably never. Non-2SLGBTQ+ folx do not get to tell us what harms us, they do not get to silence us and they sure won’t intimidate us back into the closet. So hey, Canadian Blood Services, please get your shitty policies changed and train your volunteers better!