Keene State College student Jonathan Musci said he recently received a phone call from the American Red Cross requesting his services, however what they didn’t know about him had changed their mind.
Musci said a woman from the American Red Cross called to talk to him about the blood drive they would be hosting in Keene, and to ask if he would be interested in donating.
He said he answered a few questions and planned to make a donation — until something occurred to him.
He said he then asked if gay men were allowed to donate, and the operator then put Musci on hold.
He said when she returned, she told him he would not be allowed to donate and according to Musci, she was not able to tell him why. Musci assumption for being denied was based on his sexuality. He said this prompted him to take a stand for others who might be in his position.
“When they told me I couldn’t give blood, despite the fact that I’m perfectly healthy, and my blood could literally save someone’s life, I felt an intense desire to get into LGBT activism. I’ve always wanted to be involved more, but this really inspired me, because it seemed ridiculous on a number of levels,” Musci said.
Musci continued, “After the original burst of anger and protest, I felt somewhat sad and kind of ashamed, even though I shouldn’t have. It was a confusing moment in my life, but in the end I felt proud of how I handled it. I hope to see change somewhere in the future,” Musci said.
Alex Davis, resident assistant and KSC student, said he was denied from donating blood to the American Red Cross for the same reason as Musci. Davis said he feels as though Keene is a very safe place for the LGBT community, and he said he has always felt very accepted.
Nevertheless, Davis said he feels as though the restrictions on donating blood to the American Red Cross are very outdated and unproductive.
“For an organization constantly advertising blood shortage, it seems unintelligent to alienate a percentage of the population from participating,” Davis said.
KSC student and Events Coordinator of KSC Pride, Jacob Knehr, called himself a “strong advocate for the LGBT community.”
Knehr said he has never tried to donate blood to the American Red Cross, but he does support the cause as he feels like it has the ability to save millions of lives.
“I think it is pretty ridiculous that they put these restrictions on the gay community — particularly gay males, to donate blood — the reason being is because HIV/AIDS can be contracted and spread by anyone.”
Knehr continued,”Yes, I understand that gay males have a high rate of HIV/AIDS, but they should check everyone’s blood for all diseases [and or] viruses before using it. They probably do; or at least I would hope so. So why have a restriction on gay males when you should be checking all blood donations for diseases [and or] viruses?” Knehr said.
He continued, “They should be concerned about all of the blood that is donated and not just from gay males. I guess it’s just the stereotypes on the LGBT community that makes it a major concern for society for gay males to donate blood,” Knehr said.
Despite repeated attempts both by phone and email to contact a spokesperson from the American Red Cross at the national level, as well as the American Red Cross located in Keene, as of press time, The Equinox had received no response from either office with a comment.
Knehr explained, “In America, there are still many problems dealing with the LGBT community, but I think it is getting a little better now that more and more states are legalizing gay marriage and supporting the employment non-discrimination act. Stereotypes will always exist, though and it’s difficult because even I get perceptions and judgments from other people just based on the fact that I’m gay. They might not be hurtful, but they are still stereotypes. I deal with it in my own way and I help other members of the LGBT community by giving them support because I know it can be difficult for some; especially students on campus, to be accepted.”
Knehr continued and said his involvement in KSC Pride allows him to help members of the LGBT community in circumstances as these. “That is why I love being a part of KSC Pride so much, to help people of the LGBT community feel accepted and that being apart of the LGBT community is nothing to be ashamed of.”
Musci, Knehr and Davis all agreed that Keene, N.H. and the KSC campus are extremely open and accepting environments to the LGBT community, and this is why it seemed out of character for a town to host an event with such restrictions. It is the hopes of many that Musci’s answer of why he is not able to donate may be answered in the near future, and people will be able to donate blood based on their blood, not their sexuality.
Jenna Lambert can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org