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Inside the Pulse Nightclub.

Inside the Pulse Nightclub, the scene of a mass shooting Saturday night.

But LGBTQIA Folks Still Can’t Give Blood.

Today, I woke up.

I woke up, used the bathroom and then heard my mother say that there was a shooting at an LGBTQ+ Club in Orlando, Florida. I did not believe her at first, so I checked my sources. It was true. At least 50 were dead and 50 more were injured.  And on top of that, there is an immediate need for blood transfusions for some of the folks injured.

Here is the thing: these same people who need blood transfusion aren’t able to donate under “normal circumstances”. This means that many people who match the blood types needed to help save a fellow LGBTQ+ lives (especially people of color) would usually not be able to do so because of outdated laws. And even though this lifetime ban on blood donations from men who have sex with men (and trans women — because this society is rooted in transmisogyny) has been removed, there is still a condition to donate blood: you need to not have been having sex for a year before you can donate.

Exception to the Rule

An announcement made for blood donations needed, even people that are banned can donate! It happened to be false.

While there was false information that this ban had been temporarily lifted because of the urgency of the situation, the ban remains.

And there is still a problem with that.

Why is it only when there is severe, dire need that blood can be accepted from men that have sex with men and trans women? Even though the HIV/AIDS epidemic isn’t discussed as often these days, back in the ’80s, it was this epidemic that fueled the queerphobic and transmisognystic blood donation policies that exist today. Those same policies that ignore that straight people can get HIV or AIDS. Or Hep C. These policies perpetuate the panic that has existed for decades.

It says a lot about our society that this ban was announced as temporarily lifted — and that the lifting was false.  This society still has a long way to go. This tragedy its aftermath are a harsh reminder that marriage equality isn’t the only issue we need to address in LGBTQIA spaces.

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Mickey Valentine is an activist of Jamaican descent born and raised in the Bronx, NY and currently lives in Somerville, MA. Some things (besides angry) that can describe them : a polyamorous, nonbinary, queer disabled femme who promotes the importance of honesty and vulnerability. They’re down to talk about animation, youth development, kink, gentrification, disability justice and reproductive justice-related things.

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