More

Our blood donation rules need a makeover. Let's start with who is allowed to give.

Who could be donating blood that isn’t? One answer: Queer men.

Our blood donation rules need a makeover. Let's start with who is allowed to give.

Despite the desperate need for blood donations, very few people who can donate blood in the United States actually do.

"Of the eligible donors — and I think about 38% are eligible to actually donate — there's probably about 3 or 4% that actually do donate. That's alarming," said Red Cross spokesman Joe Zydlo in a recent interview.

The American Red Cross released more statistics about blood donation ahead of World Blood Donor Day on June 14.


Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images.

The surprising number knocks a lot of misconceptions about blood donation in America. Someone in the U.S. needs a blood donation every two seconds, according to the Red Cross. And yet, the low number of blood donation rates means that those in need of blood aren’t being served.

It begs the question: Who could be donating blood that isn’t?

One answer: Queer men.

Photo by Guillaume Souvant/AFP/Getty Images.

Though queer men can technically donate blood, there's still some pretty homophobic red tape blocking real progress.

In 2015, the Red Cross lifted the lifetime ban on blood donations from men who have sex with men. But, the flawed rule only applies to men who haven’t had sex with other men within a year of donation.

Dating back to antiquated U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) laws from 1983, gay men were originally prohibited from donating blood entirely due to stigma about gay men as the HIV panic grew in the United States. Gay men and queer activists fought the laws for decades, ultimately finding some success in the 2015 FDA guidance, which states, "Defer for 12 months from the most recent sexual contact, a man who has had sex with another man during the past 12 months."

Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images.

The guidance, while a step in the right direction, is still rightly criticized as being biased and not doing enough to open the pool of donors.

For example, when the Pulse massacre happened in 2016, numerous queer men attempted to step up and help the queer community by donating to shooting victims, only to be turned away by blood donation centers.

From mass shootings, to fatal natural disasters, blood donations centers are always in need of committed donors. It's imperative we accept as many willing donors as possible, regardless of sexual activity or preference.

So, how do we make sure that those in need get help while also working toward a more inclusive society?

For starters, you can donate. Visit the Red Cross's blood donation page to figure out if you're eligible to give blood, and when you can do it.

In addition, get familiar with the FDA's blood donation recommendations, and talk to your local lawmakers about the importance of pushing the FDA commissioner to study more equitable recommendations for blood donation.

It’s long overdue that we open the opportunity to all people regardless of sexual identity and history. When we do this, not only do we help those in need, we foster a society that is rightly inclusive for everyone.

Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash
True

This story was originally shared on Capital One.

Inside the walls of her kitchen at her childhood home in Guatemala, Evelyn Klohr, the founder of a Washington, D.C.-area bakery called Kakeshionista, was taught a lesson that remains central to her business operations today.

"Baking cakes gave me the confidence to believe in my own brand and now I put my heart into giving my customers something they'll enjoy eating," Klohr said.

While driven to launch her own baking business, pursuing a dream in the culinary arts was economically challenging for Klohr. In the United States, culinary schools can open doors to future careers, but the cost of entry can be upwards of $36,000 a year.

Through a friend, Klohr learned about La Cocina VA, a nonprofit dedicated to providing job training and entrepreneurship development services at a training facility in the Washington, D.C-area.

La Cocina VA's, which translates to "the kitchen" in Spanish, offers its Bilingual Culinary Training program to prepare low-and moderate-income individuals from diverse backgrounds to launch careers in the food industry.

That program gave Klohr the ability to fully immerse herself in the baking industry within a professional kitchen facility and receive training in an array of subjects including culinary skills, food safety, career development and English language classes.

Keep Reading Show less
Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons

Wil Wheaton speaking to an audience at 2019 Wondercon.

In an era of debates over cancel culture and increased accountability for people with horrendous views and behaviors, the question of art vs. artist is a tricky one. When you find out an actor whose work you enjoy is blatantly racist and anti-semitic in real life, does that realization ruin every movie they've been a part of? What about an author who has expressed harmful opinions about a marginalized group? What about a smart, witty comedian who turns out to be a serial sexual assaulter? Where do you draw the line between a creator and their creation?

As someone with his feet in both worlds, actor Wil Wheaton weighed in on that question and offered a refreshingly reasonable perspective.

A reader who goes by @avinlander asked Wheaton on Tumblr:

"Question: I have more of an opinion question for you. When fans of things hear about misconduct happening on sets/behind-the-scenes are they allowed to still enjoy the thing? Or should it be boycotted completely? Example: I've been a major fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer since I was a teenager and it was currently airing. I really nerded out on it and when I lost my Dad at age 16 'The Body' episode had me in such cathartic tears. Now we know about Joss Whedon. I haven't rewatched a single episode since his behavior came to light. As a fan, do I respectfully have to just box that away? Is it disrespectful of the actors that went through it to knowingly keep watching?"

And Wheaton offered this response, which he shared on Facebook:

Keep Reading Show less
True

When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."