Friday, January 15, 2010
Let me preface this by saying I am truly sorry about what is going on in Haiti, and I will find other means of supporting them.
I recently received a letter from the American Red Cross asking me to send a monitary donation for whatever relief efforts they claimed to be supporting at the time or to stop by a local blood bank and donate blood. As a result, I Tweeted a comment about them that resulted in numerous dialogues between myself and virtual strangers....and also brought back a flood of memories that I had once forgotten.
It was the year 2000 and my first week as a College Freshman. I was away from my hometown of Detroit and exploring new horizons at my school in Orangeburg, South Carolina. I was an adult, independent, ready to take on the world. There was a Blood Drive on campus and I figured that I would do the responsible thing and donate some of my blood. I mean, as their slogan at the time said, the life that I save could be my own. :0)
The Blood drive was fairly busy, which I expected, and I waited patiently for my turn to donate. Of course there was a questionaire, which I have refered to since then as THE questionaire. Anywhoo, I fill out the questionaire and hand it to the lovely, seemingly nice lady on the other side of the table and mentally prepare myself for the sight of blood being pumped from my very own veins.
What happened next is probably the most embarassing and humiliating thing that has ever happened to me....EVER...
The lady looked at my questionaire...THE questionaire...like I had drawn Nazi symbols all over it. Then she told me, as cold-hearted as she possibly could, that I would not be able to give blood. Why? Because I am "a male who has had sex with another male since 1977, even once." Are you fucking kidding me? Yes, I'm a gay male, who has had sex with men, since 1977 (I was BORN in 1982). Then I was escorted out of the blood drive location because of fears that I would cause a scene. I would have. I was shocked, totally embarassed, and I wanted to cry.
The worst part about it is the fact that was no empathy whatsoever. There was no "I'm sorry, but unfortunately FDA guidelines...." No "I wish we could, but..." No nothing, but the impression of "You're gay, therefore you have AIDS, and we don't want your disease-ridden blood."
Flashforward to the other day, and the conversations that I had with these people whom I have never met. It was almost the same thing all over again, except they were a little nicer. But were still trying to justify the reasoning. I was told that people are prohibited from giving blood for sleeping with prostitutes and sharing needles. While that may be true, the fact of the matter is that as long as they refrain from that activity for i year before donating blood, then they're allowed to do so. So according to my calculations, a hetersexual male can have unprotected sex with a different female prostitute every day of his life and then share needles with 20 different people, and as long as he stops doing that for a year, then he can donate blood. But if I have protected sex with another HIV negative male, test negative every six months, and become abstinate for 10 years, I'm still prohibited from donating blood. Does that make sense? What sickens me the most is that it's been almost ten years after that incident, and 25 years after the archaic clause was placed on THE questionare, and nothing has changed. I've had this discussion with several of my gay friends. Some of them told me that they donated blood after lying on THE questionaire. Fuck that. I'm not lying on any form just so an organization who practices blatent institutionalized homophobia can suck the blood out of me....literally.
So fuck you, Red Cross. Take my name off your mailing list. You don't want my blood, therefore you don't get my money.