While you furiously refresh The Guardian and Buzzfeed for updates on Kate Middleton’s blue-blooded royal baby, take a look at one man’s plan to remove the stigma – and the ban – on gays donating blood.
Ryan James Yezak, an L.A.-based filmmaker and activist, has launched a White House “We the People” petition to ask the Food and Drug Administration to lift its decades-old ban against gay and bisexual male blood donors. The petition currently has more than 13,400 signatures, and requires a total of 100,000 by Aug. 6.
“If we are successful in doing this, President Obama and/or his administration will comment on the FDA ban against gay/bisexual men donating blood,” Yezak, 26, told Metro Weekly.
The ban has been in place since 1983 – prior to reliable, advanced HIV-testing capabilities – and prohibits any man who has had sex with another man since 1977 from giving blood. The ban not only reduces the amount of available blood, but also perpetuates negative stereotypes based on sexual orientation, Yezak said.
Yezak organized the National Gay Blood Drive on July 12, with HIV-testing sites set up at blood-donation centers in every state and the District aimed at demonstrating how much blood is deemed ineligible for donation by the FDA. Organizers plan to send the rejection forms and the HIV-test results to the FDA to demonstrate how much blood is automatically disqualified due to the ban.
“If you are a male who’s had sex with another male since 1977, also known as an MSM donor, then you’re banned, denied, blacklisted from donating blood – no matter how safe you are, no matter how good you think your blood might be,” said Yezak in a video to raise awareness.