In my freshman year of college I decided to donate blood when I saw the Red Cross blood drive trailer in front of our dorms. A nice lady welcomed me in and prepared me for a blood draw. That is, until our conversation brought up the fact that I am a gay man. She told me that by law this fact made me ineligible to donate blood. In my frustration later that day, I researched the legal situation that bans gay men from donating blood in the U.S., only to be reaffirmed of the discrimination that men who have sex with other men are faced with, if they want to donate blood.
The good news is, people are starting to see the value of the blood that we as a nation are missing out on. This blood has the potential to save hundreds of thousands of lives. I discussed this topic in a recent conversation with a clinician, who assured me that every single donation is thoroughly tested to ensure the quality and health of the blood. So what is still keeping us from changing this outdated and ill-advised law?
In an effort to raise awareness, this Sunday, February 23rd, Rainbow Grocery is hosting a “Banned4Life” blood drive in conjunction with Causes.com and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. This event will allow you to donate blood in place of a gay or bisexual man, to raise awareness and send a message to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg M.D. and Secretary Kathleen Sebelius of Health and Human Services to revise the FDA policy that bans men who have sex with other men from donating blood.
If you are in San Francisco this Sunday, we encourage you to stop by the blood drive in support of the “Banned4Life” movement, and if you are eligible, please consider donating blood instead of someone who cannot, you might save someone’s life.
Go to https://www.causes.com/banned4life to sign the petition in support of overturning this ban. Let’s make the world a more accepting place, where an American who is willing to sacrifice their time to donate blood for someone else is welcomed and appreciated, regardless of sexual orientation.
When: February 23, 2014, 12pm – 4pm PST
Where: Rainbow Grocery, 1745 Folsom Street, San Francisco, CA, 94103
Who: Banned4Life, a national advocacy group based in Orlando, that aims to raise awareness about the FDA’s policy that bans men who have sex with men (MSM) from donating blood.
What: Rainbow Grocery and Causes.com will be hosting a Banned4Life blood drive in San Francisco. The Banned4Life blood drive aims to direct attention to local and national efforts to end end the FDA's anti-gay donation policy and increase blood donations.
All individuals are welcomed and encouraged to donate blood in place of a gay or bisexual man who cannot. A rally will take place at 2pm PST.