Since 1977, the federal Food and Drug Administration has prohibited gay and bisexual men from donating blood. In fact, if you are a man who has ever had sex with another man in the past three decades, you are permanently banned from giving blood. Lawmakers, along with medical and advocacy organizations, have encouraged the FDA to lift the ban without success. Both Canada and Mexico have repealed their long-standing bans in the past year.
On Friday, July 12, one out filmmaker hopes to highlight the discriminatory policy by hosting the first-ever nationwide gay blood drive. The peaceful national demonstration will be captured on film and included in director Ryan James Yezak's upcoming feature-length documentary Second Class Citizens.
Calling the ban outdated, Yezak notes that "as a result, countless otherwise eligible gay and bisexual men are unable to contribute to the nation's blood supply and save lives."
"Not only that, but the ban perpetuates negative stereotypes and stigma," Yezak continues in a video announcing the blood drive. "Whether intentional or not, it is discrimination based on sexual orientation."
The blood drive begins at 9 a.m. Pacific time on Friday, and continues through 5 p.m. Pacific at donation centers around the country. Healthy gay and bisexual men — referred to as "men who have sex with men" or MSM in healthcare parlance — will arrive at donation centers and get tested before attempting to donate blood. When each openly gay or bisexual man is rejected, the gay blood drive will collect the donor's test result, compile it with others from the blood drive, then deliver the rejected submissions to the FDA to visually demonstrate the volume of healthy, useable blood that's being denied to persons in need by the FDA's discriminatory policy.
Find more information about the gay blood drive here, and watch Yezak's video announcement below.