Last year, Buffalo resident Jordan Moll took a vow of celibacy – not for religious reasons, but so he could donate blood and draw attention to the lasting stigma against blood donations from those who have sex with gay and bisexual men. His year spent abstaining from sex is about to come to an end, culminating with the first Blood is Blood drive in Virginia, scheduled to take place on July 28 at the Great Neck Recreation Center in Virginia Beach, followed by an evening event that will include a raffle and silent auction at MJ’s Tavern on Norfolk.
Mr. Moll began Blood Is Blood three years ago after he rejected as a blood donor and has since worked to encourage the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to change their 2015 policy that requires a gay or bi-sexual man to abstain from sex with another man for at least 12 months to be eligible to donate blood. Between 1983-2015, gay men were banned from donating blood. Since then, he has organized three blood drives and at the 2017 Blood is Blood drive held in Buffalo, he publicly announced his intention to abstain from sexual activity for year.
When donating, donors are screened and are routinely asked if they have had sex with another man since 1977. It would be very easy for donors to simply lie, but Moll wanted to prove a point, stating, “Blood donation is about saving people’s lives. You shouldn’t have to lie to be a good citizen or donate blood.”
Moll’s efforts caught the attention of the Old Dominion girls of Leather (ODgoL) , a local social club founded in October 2017 who endeavors to give back to the community. ODgoL is a co-host along with the LGBT Life Center. Event organizes are asking the Hampton Roads community to come out and donate in place of friends and family who are ineligible.
Susan Clinton, Vice President of ODgoL also noted that a bisexual female who has had sex with a bisexual male would also be ineligible to donate blood and is encouraging those currently eligible to come donate blood on July 28, “Bring someone that can donate in your place.” She added that, “they’re not going to stop us from donating blood.”
Additionally, at both Blood is Blood events, the hosts will be raising awareness of the issue as July is “Blood Donation Month” and currently, at a time the nation’s blood supply is dangerously low. According to the Red Cross, one pint of blood can save three lives, which makes the current 12 moth deferment guidance for sexually active gay/bisexual men from being donors a barrier from keeping the blood supply at safe levels. Despite the current policy, the local chapter of the American Red Cross is currently supportive of the blood drive.
The FDA’s blood donor guidance has its roots from the early days of the AIDS crisis, when the agency initiated a lifetime ban on allowing gay men to be blood donors in an attempt to keep HIV out of the nation’s blood supply. Since then, mounting public pressure and technological advances, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) updated its circa 1983 blood donation guidelines and in December 2015 published the “Revised Recommendations for Reducing the Risk of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Transmission by Blood and Blood Products.”
Moll stated that most donated blood sits in blood banks for three months and is screened for a wide variety of infectious diseases (including HIV) three times before it is used in a clinical setting. A three month deferment for all sexually active donors would be more reasonable and help the blood supply.
If you are eligible to donate blood, want to learn more about this issue, meet Mr. Moll and the Old dominion Girls of Leather, check out the Blood is Blood website and attend the blood drive and MJ’s event on July 28. All blood donors will receive two raffle tickets to be eligible to win the following prizes:
- Homeopathic spa gift basket from Sosye Kay
- $50 gift certificate from Folk City Tattoo
- Dinner and drinks for two at MJ’s Tavern
- A full tarot reading session with Mama Alexandra of Kindred Spirit and a $100 VISA gift card!