As part of a campaign intended to criticize the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) blood donor policies, actor Alan Cumming appeared in a mock public service announcement, touting a Celibacy Challenge for gay and bisexual men.
The video is part of a campaign, created by the design firm Bullitt and advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi NY, for GLAAD and the Gay Men’s Health Crisis’ response to the double standard for gay and bisexual men hoping to donate blood.
The Celibacy Challenge campaign comes after the FDA announced in December that men who have sex with men would no longer be banned from donating blood for life, as they have been since 1983, but would still need to abstain from sex for a year in order to be eligible.
“Now if you’re gay and you want to save lives, the FDA will let you. You just can’t have sex, for an entire year. That’s right, 365 days of celibacy.
Introducing, the Celibacy Challenge! To help you abstain from any naughty temptation, here are some fully approved activities that are guaranteed to make your year without sex fly by.
…Or there’s another option. Sign our petition.”
The goal, as Cumming says at the end of the video, is to put pressure the FDA, and to change its questionnaire, so donors are screened based on their exposure to risk, and not their sexual orientation.
The petition points out that whereas straight men who have safe sex with multiple women can still donate blood, gay and bisexual men who have had safe sex in the last year (even with a monogamous partner) are still prohibited from doing the same.
In December, Dr. Peter Marks, deputy director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, told The New York Times that “at this time we simply do not have the evidence to suggest that we can go to a shorter period.”
“Stereotypes have no place in saving lives. The FDA’s proposed change still means that countless gay and bisexual men will be turned away from blood banks simply because of who they are.”
Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD president and CEO