First off, just to start, you should do it. Not just in Canada, but wherever you live. You’re saving lives, you’re contributing to a good cause, you’re doing undeniable good.
However! I’ve had a few salty encounters with their twitter account over the last few days and it’s left me feeling a little…bitter, and angry, towards them. It started off because I saw an ad of them posting for help (they’re in the middle of a six year low in donations and they’re riding the line pretty hard on their supply) and usually I just see them, feel sad for a little bit (if you’re unaware, it’s still Canadian Blood Service’s policy that gay men who have been sexually active with another man in the last year are not allowed to donate blood), and then I move on. But I was feeling a little more aggravated about it than I normally do, so I fired off a quick “I would love to!…if you didn’t exclude me from doing so based solely on my sexual orientation” tweet and kind of forgot about it.
But somebody over there was paying attention. And they sort of tried to be conciliatory? They said that they understood that it was frustrating, but hey, they changed the rules a little while ago so that gay men could donate now after only a year without having sex with another man. So basically, if we just cut that gay shit out for a year, they’ll let us participate. Do they know how insulting that is? And unrealistic (for those in the gay community who like and participate in sexual activities)? Have you ever not had sex for a year before? On purpose? I did it this one time by accident and it was wack.
Plus, straight people aren’t immune to STIs and it’s not standard practice to make them wait for a year after having sex before they give blood. If you made that the rule, you wouldn’t have any blood. Your blood banks would be filled with cobwebs and hate mail. The rule still essentially excludes a huge portion of our community. And yes, I know that gay men are at a higher risk (because the people that run that twitter thought it would be a good idea to send me a study telling me, as if I wasn’t already aware) for STIs that are transmitted through blood. But show me the study that proves that gay men who practice safe sex are at a higher risk than straight people who don’t and I’ll shut up about it. Hell, show me the study that says they’re at higher risk than straight people who also practice safe sex and I’ll be quiet.
Also, can you do me the favour of not pretending that it’s entirely scientific and has nothing to do with prejudice? Because if it was, the rule would just be that anybody who’s had unprotected sex with a new partner in the last year shouldn’t be allowed to donate, no matter their sex or sexual partner. It wouldn’t exclude people who have been in relationships with the same person for ten years or people who (like me) might have multiple partners, but who are meticulously safe in their sexual encounters and have never had an STI.
I’m safe, I’m healthy, and I’m willing, but I’m prevented from participating in the health of my community because of the people that I love, and it’s a real fucking bummer. How does the chant go? We’re here! We’re queer!…And we want to help you, and there’s a lot of us. Yes, right now you can cover the amount that you need. Everybody is provided for. But if the donation slump gets worse, or there’s an emergency of some kind and the need increases? I can’t help but think that anybody whose life gets put in danger, anybody who might die one day, needing blood that one of us would happily give them if not for your dumbass, bigotted rule…that’s kind of on you.
I know I usually put a heart here, but today I’m not quite in the mood.