When recent Ithaca College graduate Kyle James was turned away from donating blood because of FDA guidelines he sees as discriminatory against gay men, he decided to do something about it.
He started with a selfie in front of a mobile blood donation – the same one that had denied him – and a hashtag: #MyBloodIsGood. Then he organized a photo shoot to create striking visuals for what has become an online campaign to raise awareness of the FDA guidelines for donating blood, which prevent, among others, men who have had sex with other men in the past year, from donating.
The photos are impactful: portraits of Ithaca College students doused with fake blood. The message, according to James, is that the current FDA guidelines are wasting blood that could be put to good use.
“I studied integrated marketing communications at Ithaca College, and I knew that the best photo campaigns were gripping, but gripping with a purpose,” said James. “I wanted it to have eye-stopping power and be purposeful.”
Along with those photos, the My Blood Is Good campaign asks those turned away from donations to take selfies like the one James took. It also has a petition calling for the FDA to make its guidelines more inclusive.
According to the FDA, the restrictions on blood donations serve to prevent blood-borne diseases like HIV from being transmitted to transfusion recipients. However, LGBT activists contend that the current restrictions target people with certain identities, such as gay men, rather than risky behaviors.
Learn more in the USA Today article, “Ithaca College students protest FDA blood donor policy.”