(This post originally appeared HERE on the GLAAD Blog.)
Since 1977, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned gay and bisexual men from donating blood. On Friday, July 12th, 2013, the first‐ever National Gay Blood Drive will take place to bring attention to the ban and increase pressure on the FDA to lift it.
This peaceful demonstration is being organized by Ryan James Yezak, the creator of a forthcoming feature‐length documentary about discrimination based on sexual orientation, Second Class Citizens.
Yezak isn't the only one who thinks the ban is outdated. The American Medical Association (AMA) recently spoke out against the ban, stating that it is "discriminatory," and "not based on sound science."
As a result of this ban, countless otherwise eligible gay and bisexual men are unable to contribute to the nation’s blood supply and help save lives – especially a time when blood shortages are increasingly common.
The drive will take place nationally on Friday, July 12th, and will consist of eligible gay and bisexual male donors, referred to as MSM donors, which in the medical community refers to "men who have sex with men."
Gay donors will get tested at a mobile HIV-testing unit outside of specified donation centers across the country and then attempt to donate their blood. As each donor is rejected, their test result will be collected, compiled, and delivered to the FDA in order to visually convey how much blood the gay community could contribute to the blood supply should they lift their current policy.
It is anticipated that 1,000 rejected MSM donors will be exceeded and pertinent to note that on‐site mobile rapid HIV testing will be provided at each location for participants to confirm their statuses before attempting to donate.
”This is not a protest, this is not meant to be political. This is a demonstration of peace, of love, of being a human being,” Yezak explained.
The Red Cross issued a statement about the National Gay Blood drive acknowledging that the policies should be revised, but acknowledging that while the ban was in place, gay and bisexual men would be turned away. The U.S. suggest modification calls for a one-year MSM deferral. On June 33, 2013, Health Canada Changed its MSM blood donor deferral period from a lifetime deferral to five years. However, with any ban, active MSMs will remain ineligible to donate blood."
"The FDA's ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men is outdated and discriminatory. GLAAD joins the Red Cross, the American Medical Association, and so many others in calling for an end to the ban," stated Wilson Cruz, National Spokesperson for GLAAD.
It goes without saying that the FDA needs to revise its policy. Help shed a nation wide light on this ban by being a part of the defining civil rights movement of our time and help end discrimination based on sexual orientation by participating in this peaceful demonstration.
TAKE ACTION: If you are eligible for the National Gay Blood Drive, please visit www.gayblooddrive.com for more information or email email@example.com with any questions.