Over 100 people were shot when a homophobic gunman entered Pulse, a gay night club in Orlando, Florida. Fifty were slain and another 53 were injured. The blood banks are begging from donations, from anyone else. Because men who have sex with men (usually queer) are banned from donating within a year of sex. Transgender people and their partners are also banned, regardless of genitals or sexual practices , because the Food and Drug Administration considers any sex with a transgender person “gay sex”.
The shooting and the blood ban come from the same place: fear and disgust, homophobia and transphobia. The belief that we queers are dirty and will corrupt whoever we touch. This was the justification my high school gave for fighting our student efforts to establish a Gay Straight Alliance on campus. This was the excuse of the federal government for not letting us get married or adopt children. We’re considered unclean. So is our blood (or the blood of our queer siblings; celibate cis lesbians like me are permitted to donate).
Gay blood is human blood. Two men having sex is no dirtier than two women or one of each. Gay sexuality is not the cause of HIV, and the LGBT community is largely responsible for the better sexual health of today’s teenagers. We urged each other to use condoms and dental dams, and practice safer sex long before straights did. No one else cared when we were the ones dying.
More pertinent, blood testing is better, faster, and more accurate than ever before. All donated blood is tested for HIV antibodies, as well as a host of other blood borne pathogens. HIV is not a gay exclusive disease; straight black women have seen the highest rise in diagnosis over the past twenty years. But black women aren’t, and shouldn’t be, barred from donating blood. Neither should transgender people or men who love men.
Seeing the urgent calls for blood donation, to save queer people, most of them men, when queer men can’t donate hurts. If one of us dies for the lack of blood, while we are denied the right to save each other, I don’t know how I’ll go on. The attack hurt bad enough; this federal agreement that the gunman was right to consider us dirty threats to clean heterosexuals is destroying me.