The Macquarie Dictionary Is Changing Its Definition Of Safe Sex Because HIV Stigma Doesn't Belong in 2018

There's no need to single out AIDS as a sexually transmitted disease when defining 'safe sex'.

LGBTQI activist and founder of The Institute of Many, Nic Holas, tweeted yesterday afternoon that following an enquiry from one of The Institute’s members, the Macquarie Dictionary had promised to change their definition of ‘safe sex’.

Currently, the definition reads:

“any sexual practices in which precautions are taken to prevent the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases, especially AIDS.”

Institute of Many member Mark sent an enquiry to Macquarie Dictionary, rightfully pointing out that AIDS is not transmitted through sex (HIV is), and suggesting the emphasis on AIDS wasn’t necessary.

The emphasis on AIDS harkens back to a time when being diagnosed with HIV was much more likely to lead to AIDS. Now, with the existence of things like antiretrovirals that are actually decent, an HIV diagnosis doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll develop AIDS, and meds like PrEP mean HIV transmission rates are much lower in general nationwide.

It is… odd that the dictionary would single out the one major sexually-transmitted disease that’s largely associated with the LGBTQI community when it’s nowhere near the most common STI (in Australia, that honour goes to chlamydia).

Fortunately, the team at the Dictionary were sympathetic to Mark’s concerns, and responded with an email that said:

“Our Editor-in-Chief has confirmed that you are correct regarding the statement in the definition, and this will be updated accordingly.”

At the time of publishing, the definition in the online dictionary hasn’t yet been changed, but I assume these sorts of changes take a few days.

Being able to say you helped change a dictionary definition is pretty great, and educating people about how they can ensure they don’t contribute to the stigmatisation of those living with HIV is even better. On ya Mark!

Two Women In Malaysia Were Caned For Attempting To Have Sex With Each Other, But No, This Isn't The Time For Your Bigoted Bad Takes

We can all agree that it's abhorrent without assuming every Malaysian or Muslim person agrees with the punishment, mmkay?

Yesterday, two women in Malaysia were caned in public as punishment for attempting to have sex with each other. It’s awful and distressing, and the fact that it’s happening in a country so close to our own in 2018 is baffling.

Unfortunately, in the absence of measured critique, racists have rushed to fill the vacuum, and now the majority of commentary I’ve seen on this has been anti-Muslim sentiment dressed up as support for the LGBTQI community.

Don’t believe bigoted trolls when they point to incidents like this as an example of something awful. They love it when stuff like this happens, because it gives them an opportunity to try and trap social justice warriors in a catch-22: who do we support more, the gays, or Muslims?

What if I told you it didn’t have to be either/or?

What if I told you… you don’t have to be a f**kwit?

What if I told you it was entirely possible to criticise the actions of a judiciary or government without assuming the entire country they claim to represent agrees with them? I’d be mortified if people assumed I mindlessly supported all of our government’s policies, and so I try and extend the same courtesy to citizens of other countries.

Plus, a quick social media search presented me with lots of criticism from Malaysians:

Unfortunately, racist trolls are too busy cackling gleefully at the gotcha they think they’ve uncovered to read anything actual Malaysian people are saying. Countless activists, legal experts and regular people are criticising this punishment and the outdated laws that led to it, and many of them are Muslim themselves.

Apparently it bears repeating: Muslims are not a monolith. The actions of one country’s government don’t represent almost a billion people around the world, many of whom are LGBTQI themselves. Weird, right?!

These people are using the problems the LGBTQI community faces to fuel their anti-Muslim bigotry, and I resent how transparent they are about it, not even pretending to care about homophobia or transphobia unless it’s being carried out by a group they dislike.

These same people are completely silent on Scott Morrison’s refusal to condemn gay conversion therapy, for example, despite it being described as torture time and time again.

It’s exhausting, and I can’t even imagine the anguish this causes for people who feel forced to choose between two parts of their identity. It’s entirely possible, and indeed optimal, to criticise homophobic actions like this without playing into racists’ hands.

Let’s strive for nuance, shall we?

Gay Conversion Therapy Gets The Prestige Drama Treatment In Joel Edgerton's New Film Boy Erased

The film stars Russell Crowe, Nicole Kidman, Lucas Hedges, and Troye Sivan, and features original music written by Sivan, Leland and Jónsi.

The trailer for Joel Edgerton’s second feature film, Boy Erased, just dropped, and it looks like it’s going to be intense and emotional and leave me a sobbing wreck, so that’s great.

The film stars Lucas Hedges, of Lady Bird and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri fame, as the child of Russell Crowe, who plays a Baptist pastor, and Nicole Kidman, who send him to gay conversion therapy after admitting he thinks about men.

Australian pop star Troye Sivan also features in the film, and contributed the original song ‘Revelation’, a collaboration with Leland and Jónsi, to the soundtrack.

The film is based on a memoir by Garrard Conley that was published in 2016 to widespread acclaim. The trailer shows that the film will cover some pretty heavy content, and inevitably be quite upsetting, but there are positive moments too. 

Everyone’s favourite lesbian aunt, Cherry Jones (who you might remember from Transparent or her recent appearances on Handmaid’s Tale), appears in the trailer, telling Hedges’ character, Jared, that he is a “perfectly normal, very healthy teenage boy”, and thank god for her, tbh. 

Jared meets a boy (played by a delightful Sivan) at conversion therapy, and Sivan’s character encourages Jared to “tell them what they want to hear; play the part. Unless you really think you can change.” Thank you, Troye, for being the antidote we all needed.

Boy Erased is the follow-up to Edgerton’s feature film debut, The Gift, which was released in 2015. It will be released in US cinemas in November, but the Australian release date has yet to be confirmed.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post, starring Chloë Grace Moretz and released earlier this year after winning the Grand Jury prize at Sundance in January, also tackles the issue of gay conversion therapy. Cameron Post is also based on a book, albeit a fictional one, by Emily M. Danforth.

I for one am ready to feel all the feelings, and I truly hope Edgerton has done Conley’s story justice. The fact that gay conversion therapy is still taking place in 2018 is abhorrent, and if this film does his story justice, it could go a long way to raising awareness of the brutal realities of conversion therapy.

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