Donating Blood: Why Your Sexuality Matters

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In honor of national blood donor month, I want to share a little about my experience with donating blood and why I am very grateful to be able to have this experience. Every 56 days I wake up, eat a big breakfast, drink lots of water, drive to a blood donation center, and donate a pint of blood. I do this because in May of 2020 I was struggling with my mental health more than I ever have before and I was looking for new ways I could work on it and improve my relationship with my mental health. I read an article online that talked about the benefits of helping other people and how giving back to your community can raise your happiness levels and make you feel better. I figured it was worth a try and it really did make me feel very good to help other people and now it’s a regular part of my life. But not everyone has the privilege of even being able to do something as simple as donating blood.
The FDA has regulations in place that used to ban men who have sex with men for life. Men who have sex with men were later able to donate blood if they had been celibate for at least 12 months, and now during the COVID-19 pandemic, men who have sex with men are now able to donate blood after being celibate for three months. Even if a man has a monogamous relationship with another man, he is still banned from donating blood until he is celibate for three months. Many consider this practice to be outdated at best and homophobic at worst. As a queer woman, it saddens me that these regulations, that ban an entire group of people in my community, are still in effect. I ask that anyone reading this think about the privileges they may have that you might not even notice, and how you can work to make our world and our communities a more equitable place for everyone.