In early 2016, Jay Franzone vowed to commit to 12 months without sexual contact with another man so that he could adhere to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) recently revised guidelines on blood donations. The FDA lifted its lifetime ban on men who have sex with men (MSM) donating blood in December 2015, allowing men who want to give blood to do so if they haven’t had sex with another man in the past year.
The revised policy continues to face heavy criticism, especially since it still prohibits donations from sexually active MSM who are married, in a monogamous relationship or following strict guidelines for safer sex. Franzone, who graduated from Massachusetts’s Lasell College in December, said he wanted to highlight the FDA guidelines’ still-discriminatory stance on MSM by following it.
“I did it for myself so I could be able to give blood and give back... but also because little kids... are hearing this ban for the first time... they’re hearing that something’s wrong with them,” the 21-year-old, who finally was able to donate blood on Jan. 10, said. “That’s a deep-rooted stigma that we need to break through.”
Watch the full interview with Jay Franzone above, and don’t miss his Jan. 12 New York Times Op-Ed explaining his motivation here. To watch Franzone give blood after a year of abstaining for sex, check out the video below.