Gay Men are not fairly treated
It’s remarkable how far gays and lesbians have come in the United States. So far, so fast in so many ways. But in one simple policy move, something wrapped in the guise of progress no less, the federal government reminds us all that gays and lesbians are quite equal to their straight brethren.
So what happened? The United States Food and Drug Administration announced just before Christmas (always break crap news on Fridays and before major holidays when people aren’t paying attention) that the 31-year old policy barring gay men from donating blood will be lifted. Well, sorta.
So what’s changed? The old FDA policy? Anyone who has ever donated blood can tell you that one. It reads:
“Men who have had sex with other men (MSM), at any time since 1977 (the beginning of the AIDS epidemic in the United States) are currently deferred as blood donors. This is because MSM are, as a group, at increased risk for HIV, hepatitis B and certain other infections that can be transmitted by transfusion.”
The new FDA policy? Simple: Your blood is now fine, if, if you haven’t had sex in the past 12 months. Or, rather, gay men who haven’t been all gay and such.
The policy is not supported either by science or common sense. And, frankly, is downright offensive. Let’s be clear, ALL blood is tested and screened. But this new policy, again wrapped in some sort of progressive wrapping paper, reeks of some old evangelical packaging, “Love the sin, hate the sinner.” Or “We don’t mind gays, as long as they aren’t ‘practicing.'”
And indeed the logic of the FDA is falling somewhere between nonsensical and tortured. Should we include all heterosexuals having sex (they are, after all, the most likely group to contract HIV)? Of course, we could put a caveat to monogamous couples (or, wait, never mind, people cheat and certainly lie on forms).
Again, the blood supply is incredibly safe. These restrictions do nothing but reinforce stereotypes and bias that gay men are all disease-ridden and are dangerous for others, lumping them in with sex workers and drug users.
There is a sheer meanness that our government places upon the red stuff that pumps through our veins. I’m not going so far as to say that United States can’t seem to let go on the one-drop rule, but it does seem as though there might be some who would prefer not one drop of gay blood be in our blood banks.
Until that changes, the Type O blood pumping in my body will be staying there. Selfish as that may be, it will be wasting away and hoping for real progress someday.