Should Gay Men Just Lie and Give Blood Anyway? Debate Rages Online
The blood ban on sexually active gay and bisexual men has launched a heated debate on Twitter.
The Red Cross has declared a national blood crisis and it has reignited the discussion of giving among gay and bisexual men.
A rule birthed during the AIDS crisis of the 80s, the FDA completely banned men who have sex with men from giving blood for over three decades. In 2015, they allowed gay and bi men to give after being abstinent for one year then, in 2020, they updated the policy to just 3 months, largely because of the impact coronavirus had on holding blood drives.
It's an outdated, discriminatory, and illogical policy that perpetuates stigma against gay men, especially since all given blood is screened for "infectious disease pathogens" like STIs and HIV, according to the CDC.
While the shortage is alarming for all Americans and many gay and bi men want to donate, many feel backed into a corner. Then the question arose... Should they just lie?
The debate began on Twitter with LGBTQ+ folks pointing out that because of the rule, it's not their issue.
\u201cY\u2019all didn\u2019t want ~dirty~ African or gay blood so keep that same energy!!!!\u201d— There are no \u201cbad\u201d foods! (@There are no \u201cbad\u201d foods!) 1641881590
Others didn't appreciate the sentiment. They believe it is our duty to help each other out and if the government's outdated rule stands in the way of that, gay and bi men should just lie about their sexual history and give blood anyway.
"If you want to give blood just lie," chimed in comedian Joel Kim Booster. "I’m willing to prioritize my own righteousness below the needs of the little girl in that video and others in need.
\u201cThis would be a more compelling argument if the people who needed the blood were the ones discriminating \u201cagainst it.\u201d As it stands I\u2019m willing to prioritize my own righteousness below the needs of the little girl in that video and others in need, but idk you do you sweetie.\u201d— Joel Kim Booster (@Joel Kim Booster) 1641924205
\u201cyou advance no cause, support no human life, make no salient point, collect no plaudits for failing to do your part. conversely, by simply declining to check a box on a piece of paper, you fill a continuing, always critical need for people that are sick. suck it up and give blood\u201d— taber (@taber) 1641908078
But is that the ethically right choice? Not everyone is so sure. Editors note for transparency: I joined in on the Twitter conversation as well.
\u201c@cornbreadsays @dtrombino @cakesandcourage You\u2019re not punishing the FDA lol, you\u2019re punishing dying people in your community who need blood.\u201d— taber (@taber) 1641908078
\u201c@ryepastrami @cornbreadsays @dtrombino @cakesandcourage Who do you think pressured the FDA to not accept gay blood? There was a whole public campaign about it.\u201d— taber (@taber) 1641908078
And there are other factors at play as well. One Twitter user said he lied and was able to donate plasma but after learning that he was using the HIV prevention medication PrEP, his blood was still turned away.
\u201c@cakesandcourage The only time I ever lied was in April 2020 after I had COVID and they were desperately looking for people with antibodies to donate plasma so I lied about the gay sex and then they asked what medications I was on and I said Truvada for PrEP and they said they didn\u2019t want it \ud83e\udd37\ud83c\udffb\u200d\u2642\ufe0f\u201d— taber (@taber) 1641908078
Others offered perspective.
\u201cMy last thought on this:\n\nImplied in this convo is that the blood shortage wouldn\u2019t exist if gays would just suck it up, lie, and give blood.\n\nThat\u2019s bullshit. Straight people aren\u2019t stepping up. So it shouldn\u2019t be on gays to degrade themselves and lie to make up the difference.\u201d— Jake McMillian (@Jake McMillian) 1641963094
Then, of course, the jokes began.
\u201cRed Cross after denying my gay ass the ability to give blood\u201d— Diatonic Dissonance (@Diatonic Dissonance) 1641912476
So what should gay and bisexual men do in this situation? How much of this responsibility is on us versus the FDA?
It's hard to say, but we should always follow our own instincts and do what feels right for ourselves.