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Blood of nine gay men used in art protest

Gareth Williams August 17, 2015
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A museum in Washington is displaying a sculpture made using the blood of nine gay, bisexual and transgender men.

The display known as ‘Jordan Eagles: Blood Mirror’ is being exhibited in the American University Museum in Washington, as a protest to the federal ban preventing most LGBT men from donating blood.

It has been referred to as seeking “to create an open dialogue and effect change around the US Food & Drug Administration’s current discriminatory policy on blood donations from gay and bisexual men.”

Although sounding almost vampiric, the display is actually “quite elegant and beautiful” according the museum director Jack Rasmussen.

He continued: “It was kind of shocking to hear that in this day and age we’re still stigmatizing people because of their sexual preference. It just seemed kind of outrageous.

“So this is kind of a way of drawing attention to what is no longer really acceptable — that you can discriminate against people by virtue of their sexual orientation.” Rasmussen added.

The blood mirror is designed as a three-sided rectangle – allowing visitors to step inside the piece. The aim of it is to see themselves reflected through the blood.

As well as the mirror, the artist collaborated with Jonny Cota – a fashion designer – who created a flag made from material soaked in the blood of the nine donors.

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A separate sculpture will be made using the equipment used to collect the blood – blood bags, tubes and other medical equipment.

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Eagles has said: “The FDA is taking a bold step. There is a discriminatory policy in place and a change is in fact happening. It’s historic.

“But it doesn’t do enough,” he continued. “What actually seemed like something in the right direction, actually felt like something even worse.

“Here we are in 2015 – we have all this medicine and science at our disposal – and this is the best that they could do.”

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Kelsey Louie, CEO of Gay Men’s Health Crisis, explained: “One of the drivers of HIV is stigma. It’s dangerous to public health.”

Some of the men that participated in project stated their reasons for being involved in a YouTube video.

Ty Spicha, one of the men that donated to the art piece, spoke about the problem he’d have with his twin brother: “He’s straight. I’m gay. If my identical twin needed blood – being his perfect match, I’d be turned down.”

Blood donors for the sculpture include the Rev. John Moody, an 88-year-old gay, Episcopal priest; Kelsey Louie, the CEO of Gay Men’s Health Crisis in New York, a leading provider of HIV and AIDS prevention and care; and former Army Captain.

Anthony Woods who served two tours in Iraq and was discharged under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy before he was reinstated in 2014.

Other donors include an LGBT activist from Nigeria who received political asylum in the United States and a transgender man who is married to another transgender man.

Related topics: art, blood, blood ban, fda, LGBT, protest, US, Washington

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