Friday, 22 June 2012

Dear Diary.....

Last night, over dinner with my sports club, I dropped into conversation that I was a sperm donor.  They took it quite well, by which I mean that only one person looked shocked and asked me to repeat what I'd just said.

I've always been one of those people that friends criticise for being overly honest about my life: I don't like to dress things up and I struggle somewhat with conversational boundaries. I've been dubbed 'inappropriate' by many whilst at the same time applauded for being direct and not embarrassed to discuss things like masturbation or the snot hanging from my friend's nose...

Yet when I started donating I felt the need to be quiet about it.  I worried about this being a new low for me: being paid to donate something I'm usually quite happy to waste without any thought.  The money wasn't the reason I decided to donate but I did fret that friends would misinterpret my motives and think of me as some sort prostitute.  I just wasn't sure how the group would react so I kept things to myself.

This withholding didn't really sit well with me and after a couple of visits I decided that my close friends know enough my past antics for this to not cause any issues or raised eyebrows.  After all we all masturbate and that's all donation is really...  Just with a jar and paperwork.  And a bag clearly labelled 'BIOHAZARD'.  
So I outed myself as a donor to a friend via email:
  • Me: 'I'm a sperm donor'
  • Friend: 'Cool.  See you in the pub later'.
No derision.  No disgust. Just acceptance.

By the time I got to the pub, however, it was apparent that the gossip circle had been running at full belt as everyone knew what I'd been up to and was full of questions.  If I'd know just how many questions there were going to be I'd have prepared a powerpoint deck! They grilled me about why I'd decided to do it, what it involved, was I buying the beers using sperm-money and 'can I be there when you tell your mother?'.

All in all things were positive and it proved that my fears of being branded a prostitute were unfounded. Reactions ranged from "I think you're doing a great thing" and "I wish I was capable of abstaining for more than a day so I could do it" to mildly negative comments around my helping people produce children who should be really adopting or that, from a gay friend, I was in some way having sex with a woman, which he found disturbing. But mostly positive.

One particular highlight of my coming out as a donor was at a birthday where someone asked how my donations were going.  From this the conversation lead down a path to us drunkenly coming up with a marketing strategy for a new range of mini milks. At which point the waiter, who'd be fussing around us throughout, interrupted to ask if we were interested in desert...  For some reason the birthday boy felt it necessary to apologise. 

The most extreme reaction I've had was from my mother, unsurprisingly, who decided that my donating was depriving her of grand children. Despite already having four... But this post isn't long enough to work through the way my mother's mind works. Yet even she has got over her initial shock (I'm sure the arrival of two more grand children helped), so these days I'm much happier discussing it and I've even told my aunty.  I've not quite reached the stage of checking myself into the clinic on Facebook when I go but I'm no longer shy about it. I can even, almost, look Toyin, the nice lady at reception, in the eye afterwards...

Post written by a London Sperm Bank Donor,  IT Consultant

Dear Diary......

Bring sperm donation up in conversation and it will almost certainly be met by snickers. And not the yummy type, unfortunately. You can almost see the mental image forming in the person's head : overweight, sweaty perverts furiously jacking off over some porn rag in a grubby room somewhere. 

It’s not like that at all. Whatever the individual sperm donor’s sexual predilection may be, it has nothing to do with why they’re donating. We’re donating because we want to help. End of. There’s nothing in it for us, apart from recouping travel expenses and the three seconds of pleasure the male orgasm affords. Some of us have personal reasons. As for myself, two of my siblings were conceived through IVF and my wider familial situation has made me realise the old adage, ‘Blood is thicker than Water’, is nothing more than a go-to saying for manipulative family members. My closest family relationships are actually with step-parents. Contrary to popular opinion, you can choose your family.

One of the most amazing things about sperm donation, in my opinion, is that some donors (and indeed some recipients) are gay. This exemplifies how, at the core, it is about helping humans have children, regardless of who or what they are. It breaks away from the trappings of the rigid nuclear family (a hangover from our species infancy in which women and children were seen as chattel) and looks towards a brighter future where a core human right - the right to have children - is universal, regardless of gender, orientation or social status. One only has to imagine the suffering of childless individuals or gay people who want to have children in less progressive societies to understand that sperm donation and fertility programs are spearheading something very important, something that has only recently emerged on humanity’s horizon. Clinics, patients and donors alike are essentially standing for personal choice, total social equality and unconditional love, three things that should be present in every human society.

Post written by a London Sperm Bank Donor , Archaeology  Student