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Man regularly gives blood after previously being banned for being gay

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

THAT’S HOW MANY PEOPLE YOU CAN SAVE WHEN YOU DONATE BLOOD. BUT FOR DECADES, GAY MEN WERE BANNED FROM DONATING BLOOD, A BYPRODUCT OF THE AIDS EPIDEMIC. BUT THAT CHANGED JUST A YEAR AGO. AS WE CELEBRATE PRIDE MONTH, WESH 2’S STEWART MOORE ROLLED UP HIS SLEEVES WITH A MAN WHO NOW PROUDLY GIVES THE GIFT OF LIFE TO. IT MAKES ME FEEL REALLY GOOD. JOEL MORALES IS A REGULAR AT ONE BLOOD IN ORLANDO, SOMETHING PART OF ME IS ABLE TO HELP OTHERS. THE 41 YEAR OLD GAY MAN HAS BEEN COMING TO DONATION FACILITIES FOR THE PAST YEAR. HOW MANY TIMES HAVE YOU GIVEN OVER THE LAST YEAR OR SO THAT YOU THINK I GAVE IT LIKE A LIKE, THIS WOULD BE MY THIRD TIME THIS YEAR. WOW. SO YEAH, I’M REALLY EXCITED AND ANY OPPORTUNITY I CAN DO IT, I WILL DO IT VERY, VERY SAD, TRAGIC EVENT. BUT WE’RE COMING TOGETHER STRONG. THIS FACILITY IN PARTICULAR AFTER PULSE HAPPENED, WAS INUNDATED WITH PEOPLE WHO WANTED TO DONATE BLOOD. BUT SO MANY PEOPLE FROM PULSE THAT WERE ASSOCIATED WITH IT, GAY MEN DIDN’T HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO FOR ALL THOSE YEARS. NOW THAT THAT’S CHANGED, IS IT FULL CIRCLE TO BE ABLE TO BE HERE? IT’S A FULL CIRCLE, ACTUALLY. AS AN ORGANIZER MYSELF AND I WAS HERE DURING THE POST TRAGEDY WORKING AT THE LGBT CENTER. UH, I REMEMBER DURING THAT TIME PEOPLE WERE OUT, LIKE TRYING TO DONATE BLOOD. AND I REMEMBER COMING HERE AND THOUGH THE LINES WERE JUST FULL, RIGHT? AND SEEING THE SUPPORT AND LOVE RIGHT FOR THE COMMUNITY. BUT ALSO THE COMMUNITY LIKE MYSELF, COULDN’T DO THAT FORWARD. IT IS LIKE REFLECTING ON THAT SITUATION AND LIKE HOW EVERYBODY WANTED TO COME FORWARD AND GIVE HELP AND SUPPORT RIGHT US. NOW WE’RE ABLE TO DO THE SAME, YOU KNOW, KIND OF LIKE FLIPS. THE BAND BEGAN IN 1985. THE FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION PREVENTED GAY MEN, AS WELL AS WOMEN WHO HAD SEX WITH BISEXUAL MEN FROM DONATING. AT THE TIME, THE AIDS EPIDEMIC WAS SPREADING, NOT A LOT WAS KNOWN ABOUT DETECTING OR TREATING THE VIRUS, SO SINCE BLOOD DONATIONS COULD NOT BE SCREENED FOR HIV, THE BAN WAS PUT IN PLACE WHEN THE RULES CHANGED. IT KIND OF JUST NORMALIZED THINGS FOR ME, LIKE, OH WOW, I THIS I’M NOT DIRTY, MY BLOOD IS GOOD. I CAN’T HELP OTHER WAS JUST LIKE SOMEONE HELP ME DURING A TIME WHEN YOU KNOW, I NEEDED IT. BUT FAST FORWARD NEARLY 40 YEARS AFTER THE BAN AND SCIENCE AND SCREENING BLOOD HAS CHANGED. ALL DONATIONS ARE SCREENED EQUALLY AND TESTED. THE SAME, AND DONATIONS THAT PASS TESTING MOVE ON TO HOSPITALS. ANY TIME MORE PEOPLE ARE ABLE TO ENTER THE DONOR POOL AND TO DO IT SAFELY, THAT IS WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT. AND WE WELCOME EVERYBODY WHO’S ABLE TO DONATE TO DO IT. FOR JOEL, HE’S NOW FIVE DONATIONS FROM REACHING A GALLON DONATED. IT’S A GOAL THAT HE HAS, BUT NOT A GOAL HE PLANS TO STOP ONCE HE ACHIEVES MY MESSAGE DURING PRIDE MONTH. AS WE’RE OUT AND CELEBRATING OUR OURSELVES AND JOY AND QUEERNESS AND ALL THAT, JUST TAKE A SECOND TO REMEMBER TO DONATE AND VOLUNTEER YOUR TIME BY DONATING. UM, AND NOT JUST DURING JUNE, RIGHT DURING PRIDE MONTH, BUT ALL YEAR LONG. IF YOU HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY, IF YOU WANT TO GO OUT AND DO SOMETHING SPECIAL, UH, DURING PRIDE MONTH, DONATING BLOOD IS A WAY TO GO. YEAH. WHAT A WONDERFUL MESSAGE. YOU CAN FIND A LINK TO THIS STORY AND MORE INFORMATION ABOUT HOW YOU CAN DONA

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Florida man regularly gives blood after previously being banned for being gay

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Updated: 3:04 PM PDT Jun 5, 2024

Each whole blood donation can save three lives. But for decades, gay men were banned from donating blood– mainly based on fear from the AIDS epidemic days. But a year ago, that changed. In that time, Joel Morales has become a regular at OneBlood in Orlando. The 41-year-old man who identifies as gay has been coming to donation facilities for the past year. “I gave it like, this will be my third time this year?” Morales said. “Wow. So yeah, I’m really excited in any opportunity. I can do it. I will do it.” Morales donated at the OneBlood facility in the SoDo district of Orlando, not far from the site of the Pulse nightclub shooting. “It’s a full circle, actually, as an organizer, myself, and I was here during the post-tragedy working at the LGBTQ Center,” Morales said. “I remember during that time, people were out, like, trying to donate blood. And I remember coming here, and the lines were just full right, and seeing the support and love right for the community. The ban began in 1985. The Food and Drug Administration prevented gay men, as well as women who had sex with bisexual men, from donating. At the time, the AIDS epidemic was spreading. Not a lot was known about detecting or treating the virus, so since blood donations couldn’t be screened for HIV, the ban was in place.”So, when the rules change, it kind of just normalized things for me like, ‘Oh, wow, I’m not dirty. My blood is good. I can help others.’ Just like someone helped me during a time when, you know, I needed it,” Morales said. But fast forward nearly 40 years after the ban, and science and screening blood have changed.Susan Forbes, the senior vice president of communications with OneBlood said technology has done away with the old rules. “All donations are screened and tested the same, and donations that pass testing move on to hospitals,” she said. “Anytime more people are able to enter the donor pool and do it safely, that is what it’s all about. We welcome everyone who is able to donate to do it.”Morales is now five donations from reaching a gallon donated. It’s a goal he has, but not a goal he plans to stop once he achieves it.”My message during Pride Month, as we’re out in celebrating ourselves in joy and queerness and all that, just take a second to remember to donate and volunteer your time by donating it — not just during June, but all year long,” he said. “But if you had the opportunity, you want to go out and do something special during Pride Month, donating blood is a way to go.”

Each whole blood donation can save three lives.

But for decades, gay men were banned from donating blood– mainly based on fear from the AIDS epidemic days.

But a year ago, that changed. In that time, Joel Morales has become a regular at OneBlood in Orlando.

The 41-year-old man who identifies as gay has been coming to donation facilities for the past year.

“I gave it like, this will be my third time this year?” Morales said. “Wow. So yeah, I’m really excited in any opportunity. I can do it. I will do it.”

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Morales donated at the OneBlood facility in the SoDo district of Orlando, not far from the site of the Pulse nightclub shooting.

“It’s a full circle, actually, as an organizer, myself, and I was here during the post-tragedy working at the LGBTQ Center,” Morales said. “I remember during that time, people were out, like, trying to donate blood. And I remember coming here, and the lines were just full right, and seeing the support and love right for the community.

The ban began in 1985. The Food and Drug Administration prevented gay men, as well as women who had sex with bisexual men, from donating. At the time, the AIDS epidemic was spreading. Not a lot was known about detecting or treating the virus, so since blood donations couldn’t be screened for HIV, the ban was in place.

“So, when the rules change, it kind of just normalized things for me like, ‘Oh, wow, I’m not dirty. My blood is good. I can help others.’ Just like someone helped me during a time when, you know, I needed it,” Morales said.

But fast forward nearly 40 years after the ban, and science and screening blood have changed.

Susan Forbes, the senior vice president of communications with OneBlood said technology has done away with the old rules.

“All donations are screened and tested the same, and donations that pass testing move on to hospitals,” she said. “Anytime more people are able to enter the donor pool and do it safely, that is what it’s all about. We welcome everyone who is able to donate to do it.”

Morales is now five donations from reaching a gallon donated. It’s a goal he has, but not a goal he plans to stop once he achieves it.

“My message during Pride Month, as we’re out in celebrating ourselves in joy and queerness and all that, just take a second to remember to donate and volunteer your time by donating it — not just during June, but all year long,” he said. “But if you had the opportunity, you want to go out and do something special during Pride Month, donating blood is a way to go.”

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.

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