Why we’re covering this: Because discrimination (especially discrimination based on outdated fear) is bunk.
You may not know this about your beloved editor, but I used to regularly donate blood. My parents are both medical professionals and growing up they taught me that giving blood is a loving, human act — a selfless way to care for strangers while literally giving someone the gift of life.
Then I started dating men and blood banks were all of a sudden like, “OMG!! YOU’RE A HOMO??!! GAH-ROSS! GTFO!!” That’s because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has these old, outdated rules that forbid gay and bisexual men from donating. You can literally be a straight guy who has fucked a zillion women without condoms, but if you’re a man or woman who has shtupped another dude in the last year… “OH DAMN!!! YOU’RE A MUDBLOOD!! EVERYONE RUN AWAY FROM THE FILTHY URCHIN!!!!”
There’s even unwritten rules allowing blood donation centers to turn away transgender women because the FDA regards some of them as gay men. It’s damned insulting being told that the literal life-blood running through your veins is dirty, unacceptable, and dangerous to others when slutty straight people still get to donate. The rules forbidding gay, bi and trans donations seem even more absurd when you consider that blood banks test ALL blood donations for HIV, hepatitis B and C, syphilis and other infectious diseases before going to hospitals.
So lots of queer people lie to donate blood anyway (Google it — liars abound!). There’s no law forbidding it, so it’s not like anyone’s gonna get sent to blood jail. Sure, it’s ethically questionable, but so are donations rules on anti-LGBT and HIV phobia.
Me? I don’t donate anymore because fuck ’em; they don’t deserve my delicious and nutritious homo-blood.
But, that being said, an American still needs a blood transfusion every two seconds and every day, the U.S. uses 40,000 pints of blood. So instead of just sitting here and feeling pissed off about the FDA’s queer-phobia, I’ve decided to start sharing campaigns challenging the their stupid blood ban. That’s where #MyBloodIsGood comes in.
Activist Kyle Daniel James started the#MyBloodIsGood campaign as a way to highlight the FDA’s discriminatory policy and to put a (bloody) face on discrimination. In addition to drenching LGBTQ people in fake blood for his photo campaign, he’s also urging folks to raise awareness by taking photos outside of blood banks and tagging it with #MyBloodIsGood.
On the campaign’s Facebook wall, James writes:
The #MyBloodIsGood campaign seeks drive awareness around discriminatory blood donation laws that disproportionately limit gay/queer men, straight/bisexual women, trans/queer individuals, and those with tattoos and piercings from donating blood.
The photos feature a person covered in blood to illustrate the concept of the blood that “wasted” by not allowing the marginalized groups to donate. The text that appears on the photo is the exact phrasing (or close to exact phrasing) of the policy that prevents the person from donating blood. It is important to note that while many of the members of the group may identify with more than one of these groups, the identities noted in their photos were distributed to be as evenly as possible, while remaining authentic.
Just this last December, the FDA decided to change its lifetime ban on sexually active gay/bi men and hetero trans women. But James thinks that the 12-month deferment policy for same-sex male encounters would make a lot more sense if it took safe-sex practices and monogamous relationships into consideration. If they did, an estimated 170,000 more blood donors would suddenly appear; but alas — they don’t.
In addition to the photo campaign, James has also started a petition urging the FDA to change its harmful policies. In 2014, gay director James Yezak orchestrated a nationwide “gay blood drive” to raise awareness about the issue. Kyle Daniel James’ seems a modern incarnation of this idea, and it’s important to remember that 17 other world countries have no same-sex blood ban whatsoever, so true change is possible.