As many gay men are well aware, nearly all of us are banned from donating blood as dictated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This ban was put into place back in 1983, at the beginning of the HIV/AIDS crisis, and bans for life men who have had sexual contact with another man after the year 1977 from donating blood. Back in 1983, technology was not as far advanced as it is today, and screening methods now exist that can remove unusable blood from donated blood supplies before they reach hospitals and their patients.

It has been over a generation since the embargo was first enforced and nothing has changed. Not even after the American Medical Association publicly spoke out against the ban last year, and not after members of Congress lobbied the Food and Drug Administration to change its policy. The people behind the National Gay Blood Drive, which will happen nationally on Friday, July 11, hope people across the country will come out and do their part to help throw this outdated policy in the garbage where it belongs.

On July 11, gay men across the country are going to show their willingness to donate blood by bringing an ally in their place to donate for them. The ally should get a name tag or a piece of paper and write the name of the person who wishes to donate but cannot, then have a photograph taken of the both of them together. The photographs (and where applicable, the nametags) will be collected and sent to the Food and Drug Administration to show them just how many people are united against their outdated and discriminatory policy. The organizers of the National Gay Blood Drive believe the policy should be changed from banning donations based on sexual orientation to sexual behavior and risk factors as determined on a case-by-case basis.

In South Florida, people can donate blood and receive National Gay Blood Drive T-shirts by going to OneBlood Center (871 E. Commercial Blvd., Oakland Park) and donating between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on July 11. People will be on hand to take your photograph and collect nametags to send to Washington. If you live in Central Florida, or you’re in South Florida but can’t get to the Oakland Park testing facility, e-mail your photograph (with name/nametag in frame) along with the city you’re in to Chad Granese. He is the drive leader for South Florida and he can keep track of how many people wanted to participate across Florida. His e-mail address is; if you have any questions for him, call (772) 233-7980.

To learn more about the National Gay Blood Drive, visit