On World Blood Donor Day, Gay Men’s Health Crisis and Blood Equality Step Up Fight to End Discriminatory Blood Ban with New Video and Social Media Push
Campaign Releases “We Are One In Our Blood” Video, Allies Share Their Own “Blood Portraits” and Call Supporters to Action
One Year After Gay and Bisexual Men Were Prevented From Donating Blood Following the Pulse Nightclub Attack, Discriminatory Ban Continues
June 14, 2017, New York, New York – Today, in recognition of World Blood Donor Day, Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) and Blood Equality announced a new social media campaign to end the discriminatory practice of banning gay and bisexual men from donating blood unless they have been celibate for one year. This campaign includes the release of a new video protesting this inequity and the launch of “Blood Portraits” featuring members of the LGBT community and allies. Photographed on NYC’s High Line, these portraits, created using the preserved blood of gay, bisexual, and transgender men, signify the participant’s support of LGBT equality and willingness to accept this blood, if the FDA policy were based on science not stigma. Blood Equality and GMHC are also calling for supporters to post their own “Blood Selfie” online using the hashtag #BloodEquality and #WorldBloodDonorDay. By using the power of art and self-expression, GMHC and Blood Equality aim to shed light on this ongoing injustice.
“The rejection of men who have sex with men as donors stems from a longstanding fear and dehumanization of the LGBT community,” said Kelsey Louie, CEO of GMHC. “Donation policies should be based on testing and scientific risk assessments, rather than the stigmas surrounding an individual’s sexual orientation.”
The new social media campaign is based on Jordan Eagles’ Blood Mirror project in which gay, bisexual and transgender men, including GMHC CEO Kelsey Louie, GHMC co-Founder Dr. Larry Mass, and 57 other MSM, donated blood to the sculpture in protest of the FDA’s ban. Participants in the Blood Portraits and Blood Equality campaign include Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, MD, public health warrior and Deputy Commissioner of Disease Control at The New York City's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Eric Sawyer, founding member of ACT UP and Housing Works and current Vice President of Public Affairs and Policy for GMHC, renowned architect Charles Renfro, partner of Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the architects of the High Line and lead singer of FISCHERSPOONER Casey Spooner, along with nearly 100 other members of the LGBT community and allies. The Blood Equality campaign is produced in partnership with FCB Health.
Wednesday, June 14 is World Blood Donor Day, a day intended to raise awareness of the high demand for safe blood and blood products, and to give thanks to those who choose to donate. Unfortunately, this day also serves as a reminder that despite the desperate need for donations, the United States refuses to accept blood from gay, bisexual men or transgender people unless they are celibate for a year, losing more than an estimated 615,000 pints of blood a year in the process.
All blood donated in the United States undergoes rigorous testing, including screening for HIV and other infectious diseases. While other countries have begun to use risk-based assessments to screen blood donations, the U.S. FDA recently proposed a revised policy that would allow gay and bisexual men to donate blood, but only if they are celibate for a full year – amounting to a de facto lifetime ban for nearly all men who have sex with men, even gay married couples. There is no celibacy requirement for heterosexuals, regardless of their risk for contracting HIV.
World Blood Donor Day follows the one-year anniversary of the Pulse Nightclub massacre on June 12, which claimed the lives of 49 members of the LGBT community. When gay and bisexual men lined up to donate blood following the attack, many were shocked to find that they were barred from doing so.
Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC) is the nation's leading provider of HIV/AIDS care, prevention services and advocacy, serving nearly 10,000 people living with and affected by HIV and AIDS in New York City, the epicenter of the epidemic in the U.S. As the world's first HIV and AIDS service organization, GMHC is an expert in providing services that every person affected by the epidemic deserves. GMHC is on the front lines caring for people who are both HIV negative and positive, including: testing, nutrition, legal, mental health and education services. GMHC also advocates for stronger public policies at the local, state and federal level with the goal of ending AIDS as an epidemic in New York State by 2020. Most recently, GMHC and other HIV and AIDS organizations successfully persuaded the federal government to recommend widespread use of PrEP, a new daily treatment that is over 90% effective in preventing HIV infection. For more information, visit www.gmhc.org.
About Blood Equality
Blood Equality was launched in partnership with Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) and Blood Mirror project to stop the discrimination against prospective donors and allow everyone an equal opportunity to donate blood, and is a project of FCB Health. The Blood Portraits were photographed by Harold Julian. Blood Mirror film by Leo Herrera.