Homophobia continues to be an issue for the LGBT+ community. As progressives push the government to make the country more LGBT+ friendly, homophobes and the government prove to be a force to be reckoned with at every turning moment. As members of the LGBT+ community plea to all to just let them love freely, there seems to be no change of mindset in those determined to disrupt the “gay agenda”.
A popular activity on the “gay agenda” involves congregating at gay nightclubs. These nightclubs cater to the LGBT+ community, but are open to anyone seeking a good time. Although meant to be safe spaces, gay bars, unfortunately, do not exempt their patrons and party-goers from harassment. Originally intended for the LGBT+ to socialize in relative safety from public harassment, gay bars have been targeted by both the government and anti-LGBT+. A historic mark in the violence against gays and gay bars occurred in New York City 1969 when the Stonewall Inn, a popular gay bar at the time, was confronted by the police for allegedly selling alcohol without a license. Also at the time, the solicitation of homosexual relations was an illegal act in most urban areas. After running into people not following “proper dress” for their gender, the police began to arrest those individuals. This was the start of the Stonewall Riots, “the event largely regarded as a catalyst for the LGBT movement for civil rights in the United States”.
Gay bars continued with this trend of coming under harassment from government and anti-LGBT+. In recent news, Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, was attacked early Sunday, June 12th by an armed man by the name of Omar Mateen. Mateen took the lives of 49 individuals and injured many more. During and after the issue resolved, many were rushed to the hospital in the early hours of the morning; however, another issue took place that had many questioning the government further.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, gay and bi men must “defer for 12 months from the most recent contact a man who has had sex with another man during the past 12 months”. However this was not always the case. Originally in 1983, the FDA enacted a lifetime ban on blood donations from gay men who participated in sexual encounters with another man. Although blood gets tested and treated for infections like HIV/AIDS and federal law was revised in 2015 to make the deferment period 12 months, there was still outrage among the gay men during the events of the Pulse nightclub massacre.The FDA began this ban when HIV/AIDS was transmitted by and discovered mostly in gay men. In 1983, reports from female partners of males who had the disease suggested it could be transmitted via heterosexual sex. This drastically changed the scope on transmission of HIV/AIDS and removed the stereotype from gay men; however, the past HIV/AIDS epidemic continues to haunt gay men.
One could imagine the amount of blood needed after the Pulse nightclub massacre. On Twitter, the blood donation center, OneBlood tweeted:
This prompted many people to line up to donate blood and rumor spread about OneBlood lifting the FDA ban for this occasion. To address the rumor, OneBlood tweeted this in response:
Many learned this the hard way after being told to go home after waiting so long in line since they could not donate due to their sexuality. Despite that incident, OneBlood claims the response was incredible.
Coincidentally, World Blood Donor Day passed this Tuesday, June 14 with the theme of “Blood connects us all”. Blood surely did not connect those that wanted to give and those that needed blood the day of and days following the massacre.
This calls to question: is it easier to buy a gun than donate blood? The answer seems to be “Yes“. Mateen, despite his FBI investigations in 2013 and 2014, was still able to buy and possess weapons. Those that wanted to give blood could not because of their sexuality. If gun policy was a bit stricter, then guns could have been out of his hands, and over 100 people would have been spared injury or their lives.
This incident calls on the LGBT+ community and allies to come together to fix issues surrounding the safety of the LGBT+ community in the United States. The club was targeted for still unknown reasons, but an event like this puts LGBT+ on the map. After the worst mass shooting in United States history, the United States has two issues that many want to address: Lifting the deferment of gay men donating blood and stricter gun policy. This would further the LGBT+ movement for basic civil rights and calls on everyone to take their part in making the United States more LGBT+ friendly. Now is the time to see if citizens and lawmakers in the United States have a Pulse.