All sensible people will be glad that the first act of new Health Minister, Michelle O’Neill (Sinn Féin) has been to overturn the ban on Gay Men donating blood to the Blood Transfusion Service. Previous DUP Health Ministers have argued that the ban would end when the scientific evidence proved there was no risk…but with many fundamentalist Christians in the DUP ranks, it was clear that the ban was as much about a warped notion of Religion than Science.
Gay Men have as much right to serve the community and there are few better ways than serving the community than saving lives thru Blood Donation.
I have a mixed record on Blood Donation. I am something of a “lightweight” physically. And on one occasion when the Transfusion Service visited my workplace, I was teased by a colleague that I should ask them for some blood. I was so annoyed that I walked around the corner to the Blood Transfusion HQ and donated some prime Rhesus Negative. And I took great pleasure in going back to work and waving the green “pelican badge” and certificate in the nose of the co-worker.
To be honest, the Transfusion people should have asked more questions of me. At that point, weighed about 7stones 7 pounds but they never asked me my weight….they only asked if I had lost weight recently.
And so I gave blood every six months. Mostly colleagues could not believe I was a blood donor. Not even the senior officer who was particuarly nasty about it. But Karma was my friend. Half an hour after laughing at me, he fainted and was taken away in an ambulance.
Yes….Karma…..a couple of donations later, I had the misfortune to meet a nurse who had more chance of finding Lord Lucan riding Shergar than finding a vein in my arms. I probably should not mention this to all my gay friends who cant wait to have needles stuck in their arms….but the swelling and bruising in both arms did not go down for a month. And I said…..NEVER AGAIN. But dont let this put you off donating blood….that nurse is probably retired now.
That was several years ago.
The real point here is that the Norn Iron Blood Transfusion Service is ALWAYS short of Blood. The Hetereosexual Community is not exactly lining up to donate blood…so a chance for the Gay Community to shame the Straight people. Having agitated for the right to save lives thru donation, we should remember that like all of us they have a right to refuse or find excuses just like the rest of us.
Back in the 1970s the TV adverts to promote donation featured Liverpool folk group, The Spinners, well known as liberals and anti-racists. One scene had the three white members expressing surprise that the black member had RED blood.
White Blood. Black Blood. Unionist Blood. Nationalist Blood. Protestant Blood. Catholic Blood. Gay Blood. Straight Blood…..there is only BLOOD.
A good day…..for Gay people AND Straight people…..especially if you or your family happen to need a blood transfusion at some point in your life.