Forget educating straight people – gay people need it too!

So there is a bunch of misinformation out there about the GLBTQ community, and it members of that community that are responsible for educating people.  We need to keep people in the know, clear up misconceptions, and stomp on the downright lies of the bigots and homophobes until they no longer are spread.

But this morning, I actually found myself having to educate not only the straight people around me, but my gay brethren as well.  Let me explain.

They are holding a blood drive at work today, out in the open common area.  People are happy and buzzing around, talking about it.  One coworker turned to me and another gay man and asked, “Are we donating blood today?”.  Almost in unison, I said “We can’t” while my gay coworker said, “Probably not, no.”  I looked at him and said, “Um, we CAN’T donate blood.”  That made the whole room stop.

At that point, I had to explain to everyone, gay and straight, that any man who has had sex with another man since 1977 is prevented from donating blood.  I personally know this because I was a three gallon blood donor and have filled out the form many times.  Those three gallons I donated were pre-coming out, so I was honest.  And because I believe in being honest and safe, and having just had my annual physical, I would be a perfect donor.  But I have had sex with another man since 1977, and am thus, disqualified.

The information about a gay-male ban on blood donation came as news to everyone in the room.  No one, not even the other gay man, knew about the blood donation issue, except for one – and he was misinformed, saying the FDA recently lifted the ban.  No, not according to the FDA’s website!

I am proud to call myself a 3 gallon blood donor.  I was even part of the bone marrow donation part of the Red Cross, and was called in as a potential match.  And even though I’m a healthy, disease-free gay man, I’m not good enough to help save lives.

This policy MUST end.

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