Gay and bisexual men are attempting to donate blood at 53 sites across the nation today, even though they expect to be turned away.
The effort is designed to protest a 1977 Food and Drug Administration policy banning gay and bisexual men from donating blood. The ban was enacted as the HIV virus was first detected in the blood supply. Organizers hope to get the FDA to follow an American Medical Association recommendation that the ban be changed to reflect individual risk factors and not the sexual orientation of donors.
That's filmmaker Ryan James Yezak. All blood is currently tested for the virus, but when men enter the American Red Cross or other donation centers, they're asked on a questionnaire whether they have sex with men. If they say yes, they're asked to leave. The Red Cross has issued a national statement asking demonstrators to stay out of their offices for fear of disrupting already busy intake workers. It says it supports modifying the lifetime ban into a one-year deferral. But the local Red Cross chapter and several LGBT media outlets teamed up to hold a similar blood drive last April at Ohio State University.