I’ll NEVER forget. I was in highschool, and there was a blood drive. I went in, wanting to do my part, eat some cookies, get out of class, hang on a couch with my friends and it would be good deeds done cheap, right? Then and now, if you go to donate blood and are male, they are required to ask you if you have had sex, even just once, with another man since 1977. If you say yes, then you are not eligible to give blood. I was just a kid (and yes I had already done the deed, PROTECTED, mind you) and I answered the questions honestly. When the nurse told me I was not eligible, I asked why, and she merely pointed at my answer on the page. I quietly excused myself and discreetly talked to my friends about it later. It was one of my first tastes of the subtle, embedded and non-violent ways that gay people are discriminated against and yeah, it hurt. Years later, I was social worker, and there was a blood drive at my job. My friend had organized it, and urged me to give. I told her I wasn’t allowed, and she thought I was full of it and just not thinking it was an important thing to do. She was embarrassed after going to the nurse on staff and asking if that was true. Since then, I’ve made sure to let anyone that asks me about giving blood that gay men aren’t allowed, and it’s always an eye-opener. You should try it!
John Kerry was in the news today, going on record for the repeal of such discrimination, but who the hell knows what will happen. They could at least list that question in the eligibility section of the Red Cross website, but they don’t. I guess it’s embarrassing.