Writing for PinkNews.co.uk, Calum McSwiggan tells the story of how he abstained from gay sex for a year in order to legally give blood.

“You seem nervousthe nurse said, scrutinising my paperwork as a bead of sweat began collecting on my forehead. “It’s the needles”, I lied, nodding at the sharp instruments at my bedside. She smiled comfortingly and went back to ticking boxes and making notes before confirming that everything was fine. I was eligible to give blood.

I stared around the room as if it were alien territory as my arm was prepped for the needle. I hadn’t been permitted to come here for so long, for years I had wanted to give blood and was turned away at every opportunity, and yet now I was sat surrounded by smiling faces, watching my blood spinning through those clear plastic tubes as it ventured off on its journey to saving somebody’s life.

A lump caught in my throat as the bag began to fill up. I had fought tooth and nail for change in the law from the moment I was first rejected on the grounds of my homosexuality. Without a sound grasp of politics or a large media following, I reached out to anyone who would listen.

Spitting angry prose at spoken word events and writing heated articles aimed at the National Blood Service, I strived to make sure my voice was heard. This was my way of saying that I wasn’t prepared to stand by and watch this injustice. It was overwhelming to see that my efforts hadn’t been in vane, a once crushed dream was now becoming reality.

All finished, the nurse said as she pulled the needle from my arm and showed me the full pint of blood. I was half-expecting to be thrown away, but instead I was slapped with a 1st time donor sticker and thanked for my donation. Looking down at the garish bold lettering, I admired it like a medal of honour. This was the prize for my sacrifice.

New UK legislation in 2011 gave gay men who hadn’t had sex for an entire year the right to donate. Under normal circumstances I would have never bowed to such an obstinate law, but as this law coincided with the end of my long term relationship, I saw this as my silver lining.

I seized the opportunity with both hands, and even after I’d built up the courage to get back on the horse, I was careful to ensure that the first prick I’d receive would be in twelve months time. Just in time for Valentine’s Day, instead of giving chocolates or flowers, I would be giving the gift of blood.

It didn’t come easily, though. Giving up a sex life is giving up so much more than just sex. Dating becomes awkward and inviting somebody back for just fumblings and foreplay is unbearable. I unintentionally offended a boy with a weight complex when I wouldn’t take things all the way, and I had a door angrily slammed shut on a summer romance in Ibiza before it could reach its fruition.

I’d like to think it was all worth it. Exchanging one year of intimacy for the right to donate was my way of silent protest. I didn’t do this because I thought the new legalisation was fair, this was my way of highlighting the injustice in our laws. I gave up sex to prove that gay men are not the promiscuous disease ridden creatures that our laws would have you believe. This was my own personal liberation, this was my stonewall.

“We hope to see you again soon”, the nurses chorused as I left the clinic one pint lighter.

I want to continue to contribute to the wellbeing of our nation’s health but unless we make a change, when I return to a healthy sexually active lifestyle, I will be prohibited from going back.

By offering us the choice between the right to sex and the right to donate, the National Blood Service are reminding us that we’re not truly considered equal, and I’m not willing to sit by and let them hold my sexuality hostage any longer.

I understand that I am fighting such an insignificant law in comparison to the anti-gay legislation in countries such as Uganda, but how can we preach equality to our brother nations in this world when we don’t have it on our own doorstep?

As one of the world’s leading countries in terms of equal rights, it is our responsibility to pioneer absolute equality in our legislation. With gay marriage already on its way, the right to donate is one of the last dominos to be knocked down. As our laws change so will the minds of our population, and I believe that with time we will see an end to discrimination that will, in decades to come, snowball worldwide.

By abstaining from sex and writing this article I have added one tiny snowflake to this ever growing mass of equality. I believe we should fight for the right to give life, and I encourage you to stand beside me. If you want to see globalised equality, don’t sit quietly by, make your voice heard, make your thoughts known, and stand up for what you know in your heart is right.

Calum McSwiggan runs the blog eatgaylove.com