According to the LGBTQ Nation on July 11, there’s a gay blood drive happening across the country today in more than 60 U.S. cities. The drive, with donations by allies, is to call attention to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s ban that prohibits gay and bisexual men from donating blood.
Today’s blood drive is organized by filmmaker and activist Ryan James Yezak. It is open to all who want to and are allowed to give. Yezak hopes to put pressure on federal regulators to have the ban on gay/bisexual blood donations lifted. He is the creator of the documentary “Second Class Citizens.”
Gay and bisexual men have been banned from giving blood since 1977. It was thought that there was an increased risk of exposure in male same-sex encounters. It is also thought that the rate of transmission of diseases like HIV is higher in this demographic. However, the ban is opposed by The American Medical Association as outdated, discriminatory and “not based on sound science.” “The policy is outdated, and as a result, otherwise eligible gay and bisexual men are unable to contribute to the nation’s blood supply and help save lives,” said Yezak.
“In addition, the ban perpetuates inaccurate stereotypes and a negative stigma about the gay male population. The current lifetime deferral focuses on sexual orientation, and we are calling on the FDA to change its policy so that it instead focuses on sexual behavior and individual risk,” he said.
Last year’s blood drive saw record numbers of donations from lesbian and heterosexual allies. The avalanche of support invigorated Yezak and he decided to have an expanded National Gay Blood Drive this year.
There are 60 locations across the U.S. today who will accept blood donations. You can find your closest donation point HERE. Gay and bisexual men will be able to leave a message for the FDA encouraging them to drop the ban. Allies will be able to fill out a donor name tag with the name of the person whose place they took.
When all is said and done, volunteers will count the messages and donor name tags to be sent to the FDA, a graphic representation of the contribution that the gay community could make to the nation’s blood supply once the ban is lifted. A petition has also been launched which will go to the White House calling on the current administration to end the ban. You can sign it HERE.