The Food and Drug Administration is currently revising its policies to end the unscientific and discriminatory ban on gay blood donation. This is good news. Under the new rules, however, gay men will only be permitted to donate blood if they have been celibate for a full year. This is bad news. But in a new PSA for GLAAD, Alan Cumming of The Good Wife fame encourages the gay community to make the best of it by taking the fun, sexy celibacy challenge.
Despite the cheekiness of Cumming’s PSA, the message here is an important one. The American Red Cross, America’s Blood Centers, the American Association of Blood Banks, and the American Medical Association all oppose identity-based donor discrimination in favor of individualized risk assessment. And, as the celibacy challenge illustrates, asking gay men to abstain from all sexual behavior for a year just to donate blood is silly, unrealistic, and more than a little insulting. By imposing unique and absurd standards on certain men based on their identity, the FDA is effectively telling gay men that they are little more than diseased liars.