Junior year I went to go give blood for my first time at my school. I filled out the paperwork and of course I was super honest. Little did I know what would happen.
After waiting for an hour, the nurse finally came to get me. As she took me into the small room I got excited and nervous because although I knew it would hurt a little bit, I also knew this was for a good cause. However, before she could even tie the strap around my arm she made a big huge circle around one of my answers on the survey. She then went on to tell me that because of this I would not be allowed to donate blood.
That question asked whether I was a male that had participated in sex with another male.
That day I was killed inside. Although I was not out yet, I had been discriminated against. What was even harder was that my friends, Krissy Cummings and Brittney Harris, were handling some of the paperwork and I was afraid they would find out about me.
Since that day, I have avoided blood drives and the like for years. I felt ashamed that my sexual actions could literally prevent me from saving someone else’s life. I was also ashamed that decade old research could rule a policy for so long.
Today, I felt that same pain again. As I sat with my coworkers listening to a presentation about bone marrow patients and the need for more diversity I got excited about getting the chance to BE THE MATCH. I got excited about having an organization that didn’t discriminate against me. I got excited about being treated like everyone else.
However, this was all false hope.
As the presenter asked us to review the requirements I saw the first requirement which said you could not have “HIV or be at risk for HIV.” I quickly asked what at risk for HIV meant. In my mind, ANYONE who is sexually active is at risk for HIV, but of course, I knew there was more to this.
The presenter then went on to explain that in order for a gay individual to even be considered for the donation, they would need to have been in a monogamous relationship for over 5 years WITH protected sex.
Words cannot truly express how this made me feel. Are we blind to research? Are we just going to continue losing donors to important causes simply because of people’s sexual orientation. When are things going to change?
How THE HELL is it that I can get married to the love of my life, but because of my sexual relationship with him I am banned from donating to help someone else’s life?
This needs to change.