Ivan Massow – Red Ribbons, not red tape

We’re nearing the beginning of December and what better way than to celebrate with a heartwarming, festive story about goodwill and harmony between our fellow men? Well sorry, you’re not going to get that. Instead you’re going to hear about London mayoral candidate Ivan Massow who has recently stated that ‘gay men don’t know how to behave’.

Being a Tory one would assume that, when he said they didn’t know how to behave, he was talking about knowing which fork to use to de-flesh a crab or how best to shaft poor people. Instead, in an interview with Gaydio, Massow pointed out drug use and unsafe sex in the gay community as symptoms that gay men were just as lecherous, immoral and disgusting as they were in the 1950s.

Never mind that drug use is rampant amongst straight, white men. Clearly the drugs people take on a weekend to help them forget the soul-crushing reality of living in a racist, sexist, homophobic world are much more dangerous than the cocaine a banker snorts off a stripper’s back.

Never mind that recent news reports have hinted at a gentrification of Soho – London’s ‘gay village’ and the heart of its alternative entertainment. The sex shops filled with straight couples are presumably acceptable, whereas the shops that cater to gays, lesbians or anyone else are hotbeds of seedy illicitness and fornication.

I should point out that Massow is himself a gay man and proud of it. Which makes this all the more puzzling. It ties in to respectability politics – that people who are marginalised can be blamed for their oppression if they don’t conform to a socially acceptable lifestyle. This idea is used against black people and black men in particular. If a black man wears a hoodie, he’s a thug. If a gay man wears a fishnet vest, he’s a mincing, drug-taking queer.

Encouraging safe sex is always good. Children should be taught about same-sex relationships alongside heterosexual ones and they should be taught about how to keep safe during sex. That’s a lot easier said than done when Tories continue to restrict funding to organisations that provide contraception or when they refuse to bring the sexual health curriculum up to date.

Government cuts have hurt every section of society (except those good ol’ wbankers). Blaming high rates of STIs on gay men whilst also cutting funding to the NHS, Brook and HIV/AIDs charities is sickening. Maybe Massow should be campaigning to fix these issues instead?

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Massow is part of a larger picture that is penning the LGBT+ community in whilst simultaneously condemning them for it. You can’t restrict safe-sex education funding and blame gay men for having unsafe sex. You can’t tear down London’s gay epicentre and blame gay men for partying hard. You can’t allow stag parties to occur in strip clubs whilst raging against G-A-Y.