TIME Sports

Michael Sam’s March to NFL History Derailed — but Only for Now

FILE - Michael Sam Released By St. Louis Rams
Michael Sam addresses the media during a press conference at Rams Park on May 13, 2014 in Earth City, Missouri. The St. Louis Rams released defensive end, ending Sam's effort to become the first openly gay player in NFL history. Dilip Vishwanat—Getty Images

Michael Sam the NFL player may not have a jersey right now, but he isn’t going anywhere

The Rams cut openly gay rookie defensive end Michael Sam on Saturday, minutes before the NFL’s mandated roster deadline. The news sent shockwaves through the NFL and the LGBT community Saturday afternoon, his march to history seemingly derailed.

Yet for Sam, his journey continues. This is just a hiccup for the man who was the first openly gay man drafted by the NFL, the first openly gay man to play in an NFL preseason game, and who will be the first openly gay man to play in a regular-season NFL game.

Michael Sam the NFL player may not have a jersey right now, but he isn’t going anywhere.

The road to that final piece of immortality is simply a little bumpier now. Sam will have to be signed by another team in the next 24 hours, or he’ll most certainly end up on the Rams’ practice squad. From there, he would continue to work with the staff that drafted him in May, honing his skills and proving his worth on the football field. He would then wait week-to-week as other NFL teams considered picking him up or until the Rams activated him for a game.

The journey isn’t over, it just took a left turn.

Sam was born to be this man. Growing up in a rough-and-tumble neighborhood he survived tragedy after tragedy as a child, surrounded by drug dealers and coping with the loss of three siblings. His father abandoned the family during his youth. His mother, a Jehovah’s Witness, barred Sam from playing football when he was younger.

His mother banning him from football didn’t take, and neither will this.

Since coming out publicly, Sam has continued to endure. His NFL Draft stock fell in May in part — many including myself believe — because he is openly gay. He endured heavy criticism with the announcement of a docuseries produced by Oprah Winfrey. While many have lauded Sam, there have also been jabs at him, most recently with ESPN’s report on his showering habits.

With more scrutiny and pressure than any seventh-round pick in NFL history, plus the hopes of an entire community on his shoulders, Sam performed well in four preseason games, tallying three sacks and leading the team in tackles just last Thursday against the Miami Dolphins.

The Rams’ decision to cut him is just another hurdle that will ultimately demonstrate the courage and fortitude of a great man.

The man knows how to overcome set-backs and handle pressure. He was made for this trailblazing role. He was made for the NFL.

Many in the LGBT community are lashing out at the NFL today, claiming homophobia. It’s understandable. Gay men have been told for decades they’re not good enough to play football, they’re not welcome in the locker rooms. Some of those messages have even reverberated in 2014. While the Rams’ decision wasn’t based on homophobia, it’s hard not to afford gay men a little foot-stomping at this latest rejection.

You know who isn’t lashing out? Michael Sam. He knew this was always a possibility, part of the cold business that is the NFL. A coach is your mentor and father-figure one day. The next afternoon he gives you a pink slip. Sam understands this is not the end, but rather another opportunity to prove his doubters wrong, earn his spot at the very top of his profession and take his rightful place in history.

“The most worthwhile things in life rarely come easy,” Sam said in a statement after learning the Rams’ decision. “This is a lesson I’ve always known.

“The journey continues.”

Zeigler is co-founder and editor of Outsports.com.

TIME Culture

Finding My So-Called Queer Identity in My So-Called Life

MY SO CALLED LIFE
Claire Danes, A.J. Langer and Wilson Cruz film the "Betrayal" episode of "My So-Called Life." ABC Photo Archives—ABC via Getty Images

The TV landscape for LGBTQ characters has shifted dramatically since the groundbreaking show first aired 20 years ago

When I was 8, my favorite thing to do after school was to visit the set of My So-Called Life. My mom, who created the show, had to be there all the time, so I’d visit her on days when a babysitter could drive me or when my dad was shooting scenes as Angela’s grandfather. I’d play behind the scenery, do my homework in the unused fake school hallway, and plunder the craft service snack table. I loved reading the scripts and watching rough cuts of the episodes. A lot of what I saw went over my head, but I could totally identify with Angela’s intense crush on Jordan Catalano. I was already boy crazy, pining after classmates, camp counselors, my friend’s older brother and the bowl-cutted hunks of Tiger Beat.

So it was no surprise that I swooned over Wilson Cruz, who played gay teenager Rickie on MSCL. I was in awe of all the actors—even 14-year-old Claire Danes seemed impossibly grownup to me—but felt especially thrilled when warm, funny, magnetic Wilson would chat with me between scenes. “I’m gonna marry him!” I confided in my mom one day. She smiled. “That’s so sweet, honey, but you know, Wilson is gay.”

I understood what that meant. My parents, who had many gay friends, had explained it to me in a simplified way. I’d known the character of Rickie was gay, but it hadn’t occurred to me that Wilson might be too. (I decided I could still fantasize about our wedding anyway.)

Many people fear exposing kids to the idea of sexual orientation or gender identity when they’re “too young”—though those very kids may already know they’re attracted to people of the same sex or that their gender doesn’t match what they were assigned. But my parents didn’t think twice about broaching the subject or letting me watch MSCL. Rickie’s storylines on the show opened my eyes to something I was beginning to see more and more at elementary school: homophobia. I became a tiny advocate, chastising friends when they used “That’s so gay!” as an insult. But I didn’t yet realize that I was queer too.

When I unexpectedly fell for a girl in high school, I was thrown for a loop. By that time, I could appreciate more of the nuances of MSCL, like the fluidity of Rickie’s sexual and gender expression. He starts out identifying as bi before eventually coming out as gay; he wears makeup but experiments with a traditionally masculine look on Halloween; he tries using both the girls’ and the boys’ bathroom at school but doesn’t quite fit in either. These details felt authentic to me as a teenage queer in flux, trying on different labels to find what felt right. It reassured me to know not everyone’s journey began with “I always knew.”

But as much as I related to Rickie, his story was very different from mine. In a particularly emotional episode, he is beaten and forced out of his home on Christmas. That storyline was inspired by aspects of Wilson’s real experience as a teenager. As I struggled to define my sexuality, the one thing I never had to worry about was how my parents would react. By talking with me at a young age and allowing me access to LGBTQ stories, they’d shown me I could count on their unconditional acceptance when I’d need it most. I feel incredibly lucky, and sometimes guilty, for having a painless coming-out experience when so many face abuse or rejection from their families, as Wilson did. Even subtler forms of disapproval, like parents who insist “It’s just a phase,” have had deep psychological impact on friends of mine. I cannot imagine how isolating it must be to have to hide who you are from those closest to you. Yet it’s a commonplace reality for LGBTQ youth—a group with disproportionately high rates of homelessness and suicide.

That’s why characters like Rickie matter so much. They can be a lifeline for viewers who may not be able to talk to anyone about what they’re going through. And they can help change minds by humanizing those who are different. It’s inspiring to see how much the TV landscape has shifted in the 20 years since MSCL first aired. Rickie helped pave the way for LGBTQ characters on Glee, Orange Is the New Black, Degrassi, The Fosters and many more shows. And Wilson Cruz (who was eventually able to reconcile with his father) is helping shape that landscape as an actor and national spokesperson for GLAAD. It gives me hope that we’ll continue to break ground, bringing even more diverse stories to the screen and moving toward a culture where more kids can feel as safe coming out as I did.

Savannah Dooley is a screenwriter best known for her work on ABC Family’s Huge.

TIME LGBT

Smithsonian Expands Collection of LGBT Artifacts

National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
The facade of Smithsonian's National Museum of American History is lit up at dusk on June 4, 2013. John Greim—LightRocket /Getty Image

A donation from the TV show Will and Grace kicks off a wider effort to document the history of sexual orientation

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History announced Tuesday a significant expansion to its collection of artifacts documenting the history of America’s sexual minorities.

The expanded collection includes a donation of studio props from the television series Will and Grace, which debuted in 1998 with one of the first openly gay characters on primetime television. It also includes diplomatic passports from the first openly gay U.S. ambassador, David Huebner, and his husband, Duane McWaine, and a racquet that formerly belonged to transgender tennis player Renee Richards, who challenged a league-wide ban on transgendered players.

The museum said in a statement that the recent acquisitions mark a “long tradition of documenting the full breadth of the American experience and what it means to be an American. The LGBT narrative is an important part of that American story, and the Smithsonian has been documenting and collecting related objects for many years.”

 

TIME

Yep, I’m Gay, and I’m a CEO—It Doesn’t Stop Me From Running a Great Business

Robert Hanson
Robert Hanson Peter Vidor—©2009 Peter Vidor

Corporate leaders need to realize that a strong company should make money—and be a force for social change

There’s been a lot of attention in the media recently about the lack of publicly gay business leaders. The implication from certain articles — e.g., “Where Are the Gay Chief Executives?” and “Among Gay C.E.O.s, the Pressure to Conform” — is that companies and their boards remain one of the last bastions of opposition to gay equality, and that gay CEOs fear reprisal from shareholders, therefore remaining extremely discreet or closeted. But I have had a different personal experience and I feel compelled to share it.

For as long as I have been in business and running companies, I’ve been an out gay man. I was recently appointed as the CEO of luxury jewelry brand John Hardy, I’m a director of Constellation Brands (a publicly traded company), and have served as the CEO of publicly traded American Eagle Outfitters and before that, as the Global Brand President of Levi’s.

An executive’s purpose is to create economic opportunity by delivering results, but I also happen to believe that there is a concurrent goal: to make whatever business we are helming a force for positive social change. Economic opportunity and values-based leadership aren’t mutually exclusive.

Performing my best means bringing my authentic self to work, every day. Unlike others, I’ve always had a supportive family and terrific friends and champions. I also have the benefit of my geography (a coastal city), my gender (male) and my ethnicity (white). While I’ve worked very hard, I recognize how fortunate I am.

I often meet other gay people in business…as well as women and people of color who also remain underrepresented in senior roles…who are extraordinarily gifted, yet have not had the same opportunities. Sexual orientation can remain hidden, unlike gender or ethnicity, regardless of the public profile with which one lives. To understand why other executives directly or tacitly hide their sexual orientation, it’s helpful to consider the paths that lead them there. Remaining closeted is not, in most cases, due to a lack of courage, authenticity or integrity. This is their conundrum: They’ve been hired primarily to drive performance and deliver returns; but they are also supposed to serve as champions and role models for a wide swath of people, and do not want their sexual orientation to overwhelm or distract from their impact and tenure. The reason it might? History.

Unfortunately, the public dialog around gay civil rights is still fairly incendiary; mere visibility at a gay event can elicit a strong reaction. One of the articles I mentioned earlier rightly points out that leaders in government, including the military and professional athletics, have moved ahead of leaders in business in terms of being out. Executives need to consider this carefully and grab the opportunity to lead.

The issues we face can be effectively eliminated through the greater visibility of high-performing publicly gay executives, the open support of boards and shareholders, and a balanced dialog on the subject from the media.

Again, business can be a source of economic opportunity as well as a force for positive social change. But we can only achieve both outcomes when we create a welcoming platform with true equal opportunities for all people. It’s not only right, but also smart for business. The facts show that a diverse workforce representative of our customer base leads to better decisions and performance over time. Those of us fortunate enough to be in the position of CEO, where we help construct the culture of our organizations and of the business world at large, have our own opportunity to lead—and an obligation.

Robert Hanson is Chief Executive Officer of luxury jewelry brand John Hardy. Prior to that, Robert was Chief Executive Officer of American Eagle Outfitters, and has been recognized both for his leadership accomplishments and unique position as an out, gay man leading a public company.

TIME Retail

Target Openly Supports Gay Marriage in Legal Brief

Hackers Grab 40 Million Accounts From Target Stores
A Target store is seen on December 19, 2013 in Miami, Florida. Joe Raedle—Getty Images

The major retailer has joined a group of companies in filing an amicus brief in support of gay marriage

Target announced its support for gay marriage Tuesday by signing onto an amicus brief in a case before a federal appeals court, after years of criticism for its neutrality on the issue.

“It is our belief that everyone should be treated equally under the law, and that includes rights we believe individuals should have related to marriage,” said Target Executive Vice President Jodee Kozlak in a statement Tuesday.

The retail giant joins a group of national companies signing onto an amicus brief filed in Wisconsin’s appeal of a lower court decision that struck down that state’s gay marriage ban. A similar case in Indiana has been folded into this case.

Kozlak said Target already offers benefits to LGBT employees and families. In announcing the move, Kozlak couched the decision in both ideological and economical terms regarding the challenges created by having contradictory marriage regulations in different states.

“This position is particularly challenging for a large organization that operates nationally, such as Target,” Kozlak said. “Current laws — in places like Wisconsin and Indiana that are addressed in this brief – make it difficult to attract and retain talent … We believe that everyone – all of our team members and our guests – deserve to be treated equally. And at Target we are proud to support the LGBT community.”

TIME LGBT

Utah Petitions Supreme Court for Gay Marriage Ruling

Appeals Court Overturns Same Sex Marriage Ban In Utah
Peggy Tomsic, (C) attorney for three same-sex couples, claps in celebration after the 10th Circuit Court in Denver rejected a same-sex marriage ban in Utah on June 25, 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah. George Frey—Getty Images

Utah's gay marriage ban could face a final reckoning

Utah’s attorney general filed an appeal with the Supreme Court on Tuesday challenging a lower court’s decision to strike down the state’s gay marriage ban.

“My responsibility is to defend the State Constitution and its amendments as Utah citizens have enacted them,” Attorney General Sean Reyes said in a statement. “Utah welcomes a speedy grant of the petition and a Supreme Court merits decision, as all Utah citizens will benefit when the Supreme Court provides clear finality on the important issue of state authority to define marriage.”

The law in contention was struck down by an appeals court in June, which ruled that a state “may not deny the issuance of a marriage license to two persons, or refuse to recognize their marriage, based solely upon the sex of the persons in the marriage union.”

Gay marriage advocates have rallied behind the case, viewing it as an opening toward legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide, rather than state-by-state.

Same-sex marriage is legal in 19 states and the District of Columbia.

 

TIME LGBT

Obama Urged to Address LGBT Rights in Africa

Advocates issue report on the dreadful state of LGBT rights in Africa, as world leaders and leading figures from the continent prepare for the US-Africa Leaders Summit

+ READ ARTICLE

Updated at 4:38 p.m. ET Tuesday

The White House will host more than 40 African heads of state for a three-day U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit next week, the first event of its kind and the largest such event any U.S. president has held with African governments. Some 200 African and U.S. CEOs are invited, and numerous faith leaders will gather to discuss their role in advancing development. To mark the historic event, LGBT advocates have issued a report on the state of LGBT rights in Africa. Their conclusion? It ain’t good.

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation and Human Rights First report contains some stark numbers. A total of 37 African nations currently criminalize same-sex relationships. Four countries—Mauritania, Nigeria, Somalia and Sudan—allow for the death penalty against LGBT people in parts or in all of the country. Cameroon arrests more people based on their sexual orientation than any other country in the world. Ghana treats same-sex relationships as a misdemeanor punishable by up to three years in prison. In Kenya, the sentence is up to 14 years. Only one country, South Africa, grants full marriage equality to LGBT citizens.

The U.S.—Africa summit, these advocates argue, is the perfect time for the White House to stand up for LGBT rights on the continent. Voices for equality on the ground deserve U.S. support, they say, and the U.S. should help create the political environment to ensure human rights are respected.

“The United States should demonstrate its firm commitment to upholding the fundamental principle that LGBT rights are human rights,” Ty Cobb, director of global engagement at the Human Rights Campaign, says. “This includes making clear that the United States will be a champion of LGBT rights abroad, and that we will not tolerate efforts to enact state-sanctioned discrimination against LGBT people in any country.”

The authors of the report aren’t alone. Representatives from the Council for Global Equality, Advocates for Youth, Amnesty International, GLAAD, and a dozen other organizations wrote a letter to President Barack Obama on July 25 urging “particular attention” at the summit to the rights of the next generation of LGBT Africans.

“We are confident that with your support, and the robust contribution of civil society, the summit will provide a unique opportunity to emphasize that LGBT and other marginalized communities suffer disproportionately from governance deficits, and that too many governments scapegoat LGBT individuals to distract public attention away from those structural failures,” they wrote. “The economic themes of the conference also provide an opportunity to emphasize that homophobia, transphobia and related forms of intolerance have economic costs, including to the trade and investment environments in emerging markets.”

Activists also note that the moment has particular importance as some African countries are taking more steps toward equality. “There are reports that Malawi will stop arresting LGBT people and review its laws,” Shawn Gaylord, advocacy counsel for Human Rights First, explains. “A move to pass new anti-gay legislation (and hold a massive anti-gay rally) was stalled in Ethiopia this year. Two young men were just acquitted in Cameroon. It’s too early to say if this is part of a larger trend or just a few independent rays of hope but it’s a trend we should watch and support.”

The Obama administration has already reacted to anti-LGBT legislation in Africa. Last month, the White House increased sanctions against Uganda for its anti-gay law signed in February, which made certain homosexual acts punishable by life imprisonment. The summit will give the president an opportunity to make the case in person, if he chooses. Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni is slated to attend, as is Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan, who also signed an anti-homosexuality law this year.

“This summit is a unique opportunity to tell the story of how our nation and every nation grows stronger and more prosperous when all citizens—including LGBT people—are accepted by society and provided equal treatment under the law,” Cobb says. “Every citizen must be empowered to reach their maximum potential, and we should urge these nations to reject laws, policies, and practices that discriminate against LGBT people.”

National Security Council spokesperson Ned Price tells TIME that LGBT equality in Africa will be on the table at the summit. “The Obama Administration has long spoken out—including with our African partners—in support of universal human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals,” he says. “We expect the Summit will provide an opportunity to continue these conversations.”

– Zeke J. Miller contributed to this report

TIME States

Colorado Attorney General Urges Clerks to Stop Issuing Gay-Marriage Licenses

Colorado Attorney General John Suthers talked about the Hayman Fire and the plea agreement deal with Terry Barton. Suthers was in his office on Wednesday, May 23, 2012. Cyrus McCrimmon, The Denver Post
Colorado attorney general John Suthers in his office on Wednesday, May 23, 2012. Cyrus McCrimmon—The Denver Post/Getty Images

Attorney general says clerks are violating the law, since the state’s ban on same-sex marriage is still in effect

County clerks in Colorado who have been issuing marriage licenses to gay couples might soon be ordered to stop, if an appeal to the state’s supreme court by its attorney general is carried out.

Calling the current situation “legal chaos,” where clerks are issuing licenses even though Colorado’s ban on same-sex marriage has not been struck down, attorney general John Suthers said the state is being forced to violate its own laws, reports the Denver Post.

Suthers asked the supreme court to intervene after judges from some of the state’s lower courts refused to entertain a similar request, and allowed county clerks to continue giving gay couples marriage licenses.

C. Scott Crabtree, a judge in Adams County District Court, ruled last week that the state’s ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional and denied a request to stop Denver clerks from issuing licenses to gay couples. A Boulder County judge also followed suit, and clerks in Denver and Pueblo began issuing licenses to same-sex couples.

However, Suthers said the ban still stands, since Crabtree’s ruling has not yet taken effect.

Most clerks in the state are continuing to issue these licenses because they are against the ban, and Suthers said he understands the issue is an emotional one. “But we simply cannot, as a matter of respect for the rule of law, ignore the processes by which laws are changed,” he said.

[The Denver Post]

TIME Comics

Here’s How Archie Will Die

From left: Veronica, Archie, and Betty, characters from the Archie's comic book series.
From left: Veronica, Archie, and Betty, characters from the Archie's comic book series. Archie Comics/AP

A heroic demise for iconic comic book character

We all knew Archie Andrews would die one day, but now we know he’ll die a hero, taking a bullet for his gay best friend.

The beloved comic book icon will meet his glorious end in Wednesday’s installment of Life with Archie when he tries to stop an assassination attempt on Kevin Keller, the first openly gay character in Archie Comics. Archie’s impending doom was first announced in April.

“He dies heroically. He dies selflessly. He dies in the manner that epitomizes not only the best of Riverdale but the best of all of us,” Archie Comics publisher and co-CEO Jon Goldwater told The Associated Press. “It’s what Archie has come to represent over the past almost 75 years.”

Keller’s character was introduced to the series in 2010 in the Archie spin-off Veronica. He’s now a married military veteran and senator who is pushing for more gun control in Riverdale. Goldwater won’t say much about the assassin, but hints that he’s a stalker-type figure.

Goldwater also said the decision to have Archie die saving Keller—as opposed to longstanding pals Betty or Veronica—was a strategic way to make sure Archie’s death was about the future of Riverdale, not the past. “Metaphorically, by saving Kevin, a new Riverdale is born,” he said.

“Archie is not a superhero like all the rest of the comic book characters,” Goldwater added. “He’s human. He’s a person. When you wound him, he bleeds. He knows that. If anything, I think his death is more impactful because of that.”

[AP]

TIME HIV

This National Blood Drive Is Fighting the FDA Ban on Gay Donors

The National Gay Blood Drive is happening in 63 cities nationwide
The National Gay Blood Drive is happening in 63 cities nationwide Courtesy of Alexandra Sifferlin

A nationwide blood drive is protesting an FDA ban on gay men donating blood

Outside of the New York Blood Center near Grand Central Station, Sam Gavzy, 26, is wearing a name tag that reads: “Hello, my name is Sam. Ask me why I can’t donate.”

Gavzy, who is a research biologist at NYU Langone Medical Center, believes in the benefits of donating blood since his father had two kidney transplants. But gay and bisexual men cannot donate blood in the U.S. due to a ban imposed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1983, when there was no effective and simple test to detect HIV in blood. Men who have sex with men (MSN) at any time since 1977 cannot donate. So Gavzy joined the National Gay Blood Drive, a nationwide donation and protest effort occurring in 61 cities July 11 to raise awareness about the ban they feel is outdated. “I wouldn’t be alive today if it wasn’t for donation,” says Gavzy referring to his fathers’ reliance on donors. “The simplest way I could contribute and pay it forward is to donate blood, and I can’t.”

This is the second year of the National Gay Blood Drive, which drew about 1,000 participants last year. Gay men come to the blood drive locations with an ally or proxy — a straight friend or family member — who donates blood in their place. Gavzy has two friends donating for him. “There’s a such a need for blood, to have restrictions like this is a shame,” says Kian Bichoupan, 25, one of Gavzy’s proxies. Some of the gay men can fill out the paperwork only to be denied, so that the organizers can send the paperwork, along with postcards written by the men on why they want to donate blood, to the FDA to show the number of gay men willing to donate if they could.

Sam Gavsky cannot donate blood due to an FDA ban that prohibits gay and bisexual men from donating. Courtesy of Alexandra Sifferlin

The group also launched a White House Petition on July 1 calling on the FDA to change its policy. If the petition gets 100,000 signatures by July 30, the Obama administration will issue a response.

The National Gay Blood Drive began when gay rights activist Ryan James Yezak felt humiliated at work when he was one of the only people who could not donate blood to tornado victims three years ago. “It completely alienated me from the rest of my coworkers, and I felt like a different species,” says Yeznak, who has created a documentary on the topic. “We have enough [gay and bisexual men] to contribute to the offset of blood shortages.”

Last year, the American Medical Association (AMA) voted to end the ban, recognizing the new techniques available to detect HIV in donated blood. “The lifetime ban on blood donation for men who have sex with men is discriminatory and not based on sound science,” said Dr. William Kobler, AMA board member in a statement. “This new policy urges a federal policy change to ensure blood donation bans or deferrals are applied to donors according to their individual level of risk and are not based on sexual orientation alone.”

When asked why the ban is still in place, and whether the FDA is in the process of considering a change, an FDA spokesperson told TIME that the agency is willing to consider changing its policy, but only if available data showed that lifting the ban provided no additional risk to people receiving donated blood.

“Although scientific evidence has not yet demonstrated that blood donated by MSM or a subgroup of these potential donors does not have a substantially increased rate of HIV infection compared to currently accepted blood donors, the FDA remains willing to consider new approaches to donor screening and testing,” the FDA responded in an email.

One issue involves when potential donors would get tested for HIV; although testing has now become relatively simple (there are even at-home tests), HIV-positive people may still test negative if their blood is drawn in the first 11 days after infection.

The FDA is the keeper of the deferral policy, but other health groups have also voted to keep it, or at least not change it for now. In 2010, the Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Advisory Committee on Blood Safety and Availability (ACBSA) discussed the FDA policy and concluded that while the current policy isn’t ideal, it was necessary to protect the blood supply while they identified necessary areas for research. In 2013, they met again to hear updates on the research they requested; when there are enough results, the HHS plans to bring the issue into a public forum. Last year, members of senate–spearheaded by Senator Elizabeth Warren–wrote an open later to HHS holding them accountable to take action, based on the data.

“We have a lot of support from blood donation centers. They want our blood,” says Yeznak. “”We want to show the FDA that the gay community, can and wants to contribute.”

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