Since 1983, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned gay and bisexual men from donating blood. Men who have had sexual contact with men (MSM donors) are deferred by the FDA for life, and every blood bank in the U.S. is mandated to comply with this policy.
You can participate today at this location.
Today, June 11, from 7 a.m. – 3 p.m.
The Community Blood Center of Greater Kansas City
4040 Main Street
Kansas City, MO
Gay and bisexual men will come out to this location and blood donation locations across 60 U.S. cities to show their willingness to contribute by bringing eligible allies to donate in their place.
The gay and bisexual men will be able to write a message to the FDA, while the eligible allies can fill out a donor nametag with the name of the individual whose place they took. All participants will receive National Gay Blood Drive shirts and will be photographed together. Volunteers will then collect the messages and donor name tags and count them so that they can be sent to the FDA – visually conveying the contribution that the gay community can make to the nation’s blood supply if the ban is changed.
The drive – which is open to everyone – is organized by filmmaker and activist Ryan James Yezak with the help of local leaders and volunteers from participating cities. Yezak organized the drive for the first time last year when he was unable to speak to the FDA about the ban for his documentary Second Class Citizens.
“The policy is outdated, and as a result, otherwise eligible gay and bisexual men are unable to contribute to the nation’s blood supply and help save lives,” said Yezak.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. ”
In conjunction with the National Gay Blood Drive, a White House Petition was launched on July 1 that calls on the FDA to change its policy. If the Petition receives 100,000 signatures by July 30, President Obama’s administration will issue a response. Yezak believes that it is the most effective action possible right now to increase pressure on the FDA to change their policy.
You can get more information on the National Gay Blood Drive announcement video for more information and to sign a petition. Visit Gay Blood Drive to get involved and see a map of participating cities.