Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Maybe you're not gay on paper, but...

Hmm...I guess next time I donate blood, I should give myself one last once-over in the mirror.

Got to make sure there's no gay on me before I leave the house.

According to a piece which ran in Monday's Seattle Post-Intelligencer, a Chicago-area man was rejected from volunteering a pint because "he looked gay."

Homosexual men have been banned from giving blood since 1983, an era when reliable HIV testing procedures had not yet been developed. Although this policy still applies, it's believed by many to be outdated due to the significant screening advancements over the past thirty years.

So, what exactly does "gay" look like, and why should it matter when you're given such a lengthy questionnaire prior to donating blood?

Last time I offered up a vein, I was asked every query imaginable to ascertain that I wasn't concealing my gayness. Have I had sex with a man since 1977? No, I'm pretty sure I had outgrown that around '75.

And by the way, I've got some straight friends who have been such freak daddies over the course of their existences, their bloodstreams could host an MTV spring break special for single, eligible pathogens.

I may sound preachy, here, but I'm one of the worst offenders, and it's time for all of us to stop making snap judgments based on appearances. I can think of so many examples, but here are just a few:

When I initially laid my eyes upon that enchantress from the Northland, Sarah Palin, I thought, "Wow, she's a relatively young, intelligent, attractive choice. She's got executive experience and she's not a Washington insider. Well played, Mr. McCain."

Forty-five seconds later, she opened her mouth and her conjunction-slathered crow squawks quickly communicated that I had indeed misjudged her.

When I first screened Top Gun, I exited the theater, pleased with having seen a tale of male camaraderie, bravery and redemption.

After watching it again twenty-five years later, my only takeaways were that Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer are the biggest douche bags ever, and I doubt they'd be allowed to donate blood due to what probably happened in the shower after that volleyball scene.

How about those CD-of-the month clubs that, at the time, seemed like such a good idea?

I finally stopped getting them in the mail a couple of years ago after embarking on a Harry Potterish quest for a secret cancellation website and painstakingly altering my DNA with a turkey baster and a Magic Bullet.

Initial impressions can also be distorted through the prism of sloth or desperation. How often I've foolishly estimated that the seven remaining squares of toilet paper would suffice for the job at hand, only to ultimately be faced with two options, each equally undesirable, after the final glued-on strand had ripped away from the cardboard tubing.

Let's just take a little extra time, shall we? Let's evaluate the information we have, ask a few questions, maybe even wait a day or two before assessing a situation or casting judgment. To those of you who work in the blood collection field, I know many of you volunteer your time, and I appreciate that.

But even if someone looks gay, just play along and let them fill out the questionnaire.

After all, you don't look ignorant.

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