Tuesday, 13 December 2011


I’ve been away for some time gentle reader, and for that I’m sorry. Time has caught me up… but on the plus side that gives me a fair bit to blog about.

And Tuesday night is my quiet night in night so blog I shall!

First – my health. Well, I’ve had lots and lots of hospital appointments. It seems I need to be put on medication, but in the meantime I’ve been enrolled in a medical research project which, before my treatment kicks off proper, will see me being the big pink in cushion for a while longer.

*sigh* I suppose it comes to us all sooner or later but I have to accept that I’m getting a bit too fat and old to be the life of the party – and such parties we have in Strumpetville to be sure – and to demonstrate the fact I went on my work Christmas party on Friday and ended up getting so naughtily drunk as fell over on my way home (oh the shame) and have damaged my knee. No more runs at the gym for the time being…

Well, I can give up on the diet for the Christmas season although I will have to get back on the horse with a vengeance in the New Year. To help, and linked with my healthcare going forward, I plan to go booze free for January (after the first of course!).

Second – work. Busy as always. I’ve decided I really do need to move on but my studies are preventing me from really focussing on it for the time being. The Christmas party was fun though. It turns out a huge proportion of my Directorate are gay too. Surprisingly my boss is – I didn’t really have a clue, but great news. As are the two other people who revealed their orientation as the evening wore on. It means of the 60 of us (up from 19 when I first started!) at least 20% are ‘family’. And I knew plenty of others outside my team who are too.

I’m part of the LGBT network and the number of gay people I know of suggests there are massive under-reporting of sexual orientation. I can understand that; but equality legislation means it’s important for people to be open –the more of us there are the greater the obligation on our employer to recognise our contribution and support our identity.

Third – studies. Well, they do keep me busy but I’m loving it. Well into my second and final year and I look forward to starting on my dissertation. Over the next three months I will be doing a mini project of my own choosing, and as you might expect the topic is gay-themed.

Essentially my hypothesis is that men in civil partnerships (perhaps the theme is personal too?) display less risky sexual behaviours than single gay men; perhaps fewer sexual partners; perhaps me likely to practise safe sex; perhaps more frequent HIV testing. At its core my hypothesis might be said to be: equal rights have positive health benefits.

The data I plan to use is held by Sigma Research, who do the annual gay men’s sexual health survey. They seemed really positive about my proposal and posited some interesting challenges to my hypothesis. Huge caveat – they might not give me the data – but as a fellow academic and massive gay, well, we can hope?


Paul Brownsey said...

"At its core my hypothesis might be said to be: equal rights have positive health benefits."

But on the face of it this looks more like correlation than cause. Even if people in civil partnerships are likely to have fewer partners, etc, it not be a legitimate conclusion that civil partnerships cause these behaviours. It might be more the other way round: that the personality traits that dispose someone towards a civil partnership
also dispose them to get tested more often, etc.

Paul Brownsey
ex-Glasgow University lecturer in philosophy

Antony said...

Hi Mike,

Sorry to hear about your health!

It's good that there are lots of out gay people in your work place. In my work place there's some but they choose to keep it quiet unfortunately. Ha ha but I don't and everyone responses to me positively, so hopefully my response might encourage others to be more open.

Your project sounds really interesting! Especially the positives about equality. There's a book called the Spirit Level (I think?) which talks about how the more equal the society the more benefit to society. Plus the book is evidence based. I never read it but read lots of good reviews.

Take care,

A x

RamblerGirl said...

Hi Mike, I couldn't find your contact details so I'm posting my message here.
Please take a look at 306, a gay short film, written, directed & produced by Elliot London.
Please would you share it with your friends and/or your blog.
Warning: adult minded. http://vimeo.com/32775696

Thank you


Mike said...

@ Paul...

A challenge to my hyperbole :-)

That is an excellent point, and of course the study won’t be able to conclusively demonstrate what I’m driving at. Confusing correlation and causation is a risk to be mitigated; but my research hypothesis stands. People don’t exist in digital states; there will be some who, in a world where they cannot access the same civil institutions as their straight peers, will - through peer pressure, a wish to belong, and a social pull toward “cool” – exhibit behaviours that put them at risk.

Put it another way: say children who grow up in smoke free households are less likely to smoke than their peers whose parents do smoke. Perhaps people who never smoked are more likely to have kids who never want to smoke than those of smokers… but we can’t ignore those who will experiment with smoking due to peer pressure etc – and ultimately get hooked, get cancer, get killed. And that is why we restrict advertising, impose a minimum age limit on smoking etc.

My study would certainly rely on having as large as population as possible; hundred preferably thousands. And it would look over time; data from both before and after civil partnerships were legalised.

Paul Brownsey said...

Mike, this now looks more like a study of the relation between the existence of civil partnership and health benefits in the gay community as a whole rather than, as you suggested originally, a study of the health benefits to those *in* civil partnerships. Presumably one question arising would be whether the fact that civil partnerships were available might affect the behaviour of those not themselves in civil partnerships (yet, at any rate).