Protestors fight against ban on gay and bisexual men from donating blood

By Jennifer Pilgrim,

In 1983, a ban was instituted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that prevented gay and bisexual males from donating blood. On July 11 protests in 61 different cities across the United States aimed to help raise awareness for the ban.

One of the protesters wears a name tag that reads, "Hello, my name is Sam. Ask me why I can't donate." Sam Gavzy, 26, is a research biologist at the New York University Langone Medical Center. Because of the ban, which disallows men who have had sex with men (MSM) at any time since 1977 to donate blood, Gavzy cannot donate blood and give back. He states that he wouldn't be alive if it weren't for blood donations to his father many years ago. His father received two kidney transplants, and the corresponding blood transfusions saved his life. “The simplest way I could contribute and pay it forward is to donate blood," says Gavzy in an interview.

According to Time, the National Gay Blood Drive began three years ago when gay rights activist Ryan James Yezak could not donate blood to tornado victims. He claims that his sexual orientation alienated him from his coworkers, who were active in helping give blood to the victims. Yezak, in his documentary called Second Class Citizen says, "I felt like a different species." He hopes that his documentary will open up the minds of those who believe the ban should stay.

There is currently a petition on the White House website in an effort to raise awareness about the ban and demolish it after so many years.

The FDA outlines its policies and FAQs on gay and bisexual donation on their website.

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