One artist is making a bold statement about the anti-gay stigma still prevalent in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) policy regarding blood donation.
Jordan Eagles assembled a group of nine queer men with a diverse array of stories to take part in his project "Blood Mirror." Eagles used the blood these men donated to construct an art installation that sends a powerful message about the lives that could have been saved if the FDA's policy on blood donation from men who have sex with men (MSM) were different.
A press release sent to The Huffington Post notes:
The men who donated their blood to this project include: An 88-year-old openly gay priest; A Nigerian gay rights activist on political asylum in the U.S.; A Co-Founder of Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC); The CEO of GMHC; An identical gay twin whose straight brother is eligible to donate; A captain in the Army who served two terms in Iraq and was discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (reinstated to service in 2014); A married transgender male couple, and; A bisexual father of two. Dr. Howard Grossman, former director of the American Academy of HIV Medicine, was the medical supervisor on the project, as well as a blood donor. Each man is currently ineligible to donate blood under the FDA’s current policy—but since they cannot donate their blood to save lives, they’ve chosen to donate their blood for art.
Last year the FDA proposed altering its full ban on blood donation from MSM individuals to one that only requires men to have not engaged in sex with other men for 12 months prior to their donation. This change is slated to go into effect in July 2015, but still angers many who say that the entire ban should be lifted.
Activist and filmmaker Leo Herrera documented the story behind "Blood Mirror" in conjunction with World Blood Donor Day on June 14.
“I wanted to create a sculpture that would become a time capsule, documenting this moment in time, while showing that this blood could have been used to save lives,” Eagles said in a statement sent to The Huffington Post. “This discriminatory policy is part of our gay history and part of our nation’s history, and the sculpture asks us to reflect on discrimination in our country, as well as the homophobia that exists around the world. For me, the sculpture is a work in progress. It will never be finished until the FDA’s blood donation policy is fair for all people.”
Check out "Blood Mirror" in the video above.
"Blood Mirror" will be on view at American University Museum at The Katzen Arts Center, Washington, D.C. from September 12th to October 18, 2015, with works created in collaboration with Leo Herrera, The Carry Nation, and Jonny Cota of SKINGRAFT.