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Type O. Type B. Type AB…Type Queer?

My mother died of Leukemia at the age of 46.  I was 22. After she passed, I promised myself I would give blood, but never did–too scared.

That was 11 years ago. Today, I kicked myself in the arse, put my game face on, and went to the local community center where they were holding a blood collect. I entered with much trepidation, but that nervousness quickly vanished as I was greeted by a group of charming senior citizen volunteers who immediately made me feel great about what I was doing for my fellow-man. Because in the end, that’s why I was there…To help save lives.

As was everyone there.

Well, there wasn’t that many “everyone” there. Just me and a couple more people–mostly older men and women. Where was my generation?

First, I had to fill out a very detailed questionnaire. By detailed I mean, highly personal questions followed by more embarrassing ones. Who’d I sleep with in the last 12 months? Have I used intravenous drugs? Have I ever been pregnant and if so, how did that pregnancy end: birth, abortion? Have I been to such and such country in the last 12 months? Have I ever paid for sex? Has anyone ever paid me for it? Have I ever slept with a man who may have slept with another man?

I don’t like answering these questions. It pisses me off.

But, I was willing to answer them because I wanted to fulfill my promise.

Why was I being asked all this?

What does it matter?

If you’re going to test my blood before you pump it into another human being, whom I presume is in dire need of it, and then proceed to test my blood for Hepatitis, HIV–all of the undesirables of the blood–why should it matter if I slept with a queer man or not? I’m here. I’m giving blood. Take it. Do what you want with it. I want you to put every drop of my blood under the microscope…Not my life.

Here are questions, which to me, would be deemed acceptable:

Are you HIV positive? Do you think you may be? Have you been practising safe sex in the last 12 months? Have you been tested for HIV? Do you use intravenous drugs?

If you answer no to all of these questions, you should be able to proceed. Of course, the blood is tested no matter what your answers are–as it should be. No one here is questioning that. At least, no willing blood donor.

Now, hear me out. If I slept with a bisexual man or paid an escort for sex, but practiced safe sex on both occasions, got tested diligently and was given a clean bill of health, what does that make my blood?

It makes it life saving blood.

There are risk groups/factors, I agree, but within those risk groups there are plenty of no risk donors. By rejecting these people on the basis of their sexual partners, and not their actual BLOOD, which if I remember correctly, is what the whole blood collect is about, we are cutting out a HUGE group of willing and healthy donors.

They took my blood today–I was considered low risk. Lucky me. Lucky you. Lucky everybody.

I left the place with a pamphlet and a sore arm. As I stepped out, I turned back and saw the line of old people waiting to give blood–bless them all–but, it occurred to me as I scanned the room for a young face–I didn’t have to ask where my generation was.

I guess my generation isn’t very low risk.

It’s definitely a queerer generation and if Héma-Québec doesn’t adjust to that reality, soon, their 3% donor population will dwindle to nothing.

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About Mel

Montreal queer fiction writer.

3 responses to “Type O. Type B. Type AB…Type Queer?

  1. Paul Cant ⋅

    mel,

    let me first just say that i recently purchased and read your book Split! What an amazing read. So many aspects you covered I had experienced my life.

    Finding yourself and being true to yourself. The loss of a loved one, and being lost to the one you loved. The acceptnace of friends, the dissasociation from your family, the feeling of being alone, and so many more. I even felt sorry for Nathan. Derek wasnt wasting his time, Nathan was stealing Dereks.

    It really was a truely amazing read.

    As for the blood donations, in Australia if you dientify as gay you are excluded indefinately from giving blood. Many a time I have wanted to help by giving blood. Advertising over here continually harp on the low levels of donors and the need for more. Funnily tho, hetrosexuals are at just as much risk of HIV as gay people. In fact, even tho sadly HIV rates in Australia have spiked over the last 12 months, i tend to find gay men are often more careful about safe sex knowing this risk, where as straight people tend to use condoms only to prevent pregnancies.

    Also, how do you know that the guy you took home from the bar a few months back has slept with another man? Are you to ask him all these questions before you bed him? Gee what a mood killer.

    Its sad that I am with a partner, am healthy, have regular check ups, both of us are monogomus and have tested negative to any STIs and yet we are excluded.

    It really is a sad state of affirs to ask all these questions considering the rigorous testing regimes in place.

    Once again thanks for the great read and im really enjoying your blogs here.. I wish you eery success and hope there is another book on its way soon.

  2. Paul Cant ⋅

    P.S.

    The guy on the cover of your book, Split, looks totally amazing.

    🙂

  3. Mel

    Wow, thank you Paul! Thank you for purchasing Split, and thanks for all the wonderful things you said about it.
    I read your comments this morning and enjoyed your point of view very much. It still feels brand new for me to have people reaching out from places I’ve never even visited, telling me they read the words I wrote in my little Montreal apartment. Merci!
    PS: The guy on the cover is so hot he could melt the paper. I think he’s the one selling my book.:-)
    Keep in touch!
    Mel B
    PPS: I do have two other books coming out this year and a few short stories in Todd Gregory anthologies. And as for wanting to go out there and help (in regards to the AIDS day post) I think by keeping yourself healthy and your partner as well, you’re helping the cause more than you can imagine. Good on you two.

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