To protest the ban against sexually active gay men donating blood, the New York design firm Mother has just launched their “Blood Is Blood” campaign. In time for both Pride month and World Blood Donor Day (June 14), the centerpiece of the campaign is this gay blood t-shirt, a shirt is screen-printed with a special ink created from “useless gay blood” refused by blood donation centers.
The U.S. blood donation ban keeps men who have sex with men (or MSM) from giving blood within a full year having sex — and that’s the more lax version of the law. In 1983, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) put a lifetime ban on MSM donating blood; the year-long ban was only passed in 2015. Though the FDA says the ban helps keep HIV out of the national blood supply, the FDA actually screens all donated blood for HIV. Their reasoning is also pretty homophobic on its own.
If the FDA were to allow MSM to donate blood, it’s estimated that 1.8 million more lives could be saved from the additional 615,300 pints of blood.
To fight back, Mother’s “Blood Is Blood” campaign is releasing a limited edition run of 100 copies of the gay blood t-shirt. The special ink is literally created from the blood of Mother’s employees who are MSM. The ink was developed by British artist Stuart Semple, who — it turns out — is also the creator of the “Pinkest Pink.”
On the front, the shirt simply reads “This shirt is printed with the blood of gay men.” On the back, is a longer explanation, reading, “The blood of men who have had sex with men is deemed ‘too risky’ to donate. Not by science. But by the FDA. Backed by a government unwilling to repeal outdated thinking. Sexuality is not a risk-factor. Stigma is the only real risk. Blood is blood.”
The proceeds from this shirt — which costs $75 — will go to the Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, promoting health education in the LGBTQ community.