I am a healthy 31 year old man.
I’m in a stable, loving relationship and own a beautiful Golden Retriever named Baxter. On Tuesday nights, I play poker with the boys and on a hot summer afternoon there’s nothing I enjoy more than downing a few cold pints on a patio.
I’m close with my mum and dad, I last washed my dishes 4 days ago, and I’m a terrible dancer. I drink milk out of a glass instead of the carton if someone else is around and I would choose a bucket of fried chicken over a tossed salad any day of the week.
I laugh when someone falls. I’m ambitious with my career and lazy with my workouts. I like porn. I own three pairs of jeans, a few dress shirts, and a half dozen t-shirts that comprise my wardrobe. My next door neighbour cuts my hair short for me every two weeks because I can’t be bothered to take more than a couple of minutes each day to style it. I’m still friends with several people I went to high school with.
By this point in my description of myself and my life, you’ve probably started to form a picture in your head of what I’m like and what my life looks like.
Unfortunately, Canadian Blood Services only cares about one detail of my life: I have sex with another man. My partner and I are both healthy, monogamous, and proactive with our sexual health, yet the only words on this entire page that matter to Canadian Blood Services are “I have sex with another man.” Today, Canadian Blood Services announced that the lifetime ban on gay men donating blood has been lifted, however, they are only interested in donations from gay men who have been celibate for 5 years or more.
All I see here is Canadian Blood Services perpetuating a homophobic and discriminatory idea that HIV/AIDS is something that only affects gay men. If clinics are able to test for the presence of HIV in blood and have results in less than five minutes, then why can’t this test be modified for donated blood from ALL donors? It pains me to feel like a second class citizen with poisonous blood in a country I am so proud to live in, but it hurts me more to know that I am unable to help those in need with something I have to give.
So, Canadian Blood Services: either enhance your blood screening methods and change your policies, or change your slogan.
“Canadian Blood Services: it’s in you to give. Unless you’re a sexually active gay man because we think there’s a good chance you have AIDS.”