On Sunday, October 1rst, a gunman - identified as a local, 64-year-old real estate investor, named Stephen Paddock - traveled up to the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino with a reported amount of 23 assault rifles, including some he may have turned into automatic weapons, and opened fire on a crowd of more than 22,000 music lovers who were enjoying the sound of Jason Aldean at the outdoor Route 91 Harvest country music festival in Las Vegas, Nevada. It is reported that Paddock killed himself before the police could get inside of his hotel room, but that doesn’t stop this tragedy from being deemed as the worst mass shooting in modern-day U.S. history as the gunman killed 58 people and injured more than 500 others.
In the wake of the tragedy, Lance Bass, a pop singer and actor that rose to fame as a member of the boy band favorite - *NSYNC, wanted to help the victims of the mass shooting by donating blood, but he was slapped with the reality that he was prohibited to do so by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), along with every other gay and bisexual man. In 2015, the FDA made national news when it lifted its lifetime ban on gay and bisexual men giving blood; however, it’s current policy still bans any man who has had sex with another man in the past year from donating and that also includes sexually active gay men who are married or in monogamous relationships. Which undermines the fact that heterosexual men who have unprotected sex with several partners, or even complete strangers, are still able to donate blood over the gay male who religiously practices safe sex.
On October 3rd, the 38-year-old singer took to Twitter in frustration to slam the FDA policy.
Bass, who married Micheal Torching in 2014, also made his case on Instagram the following day when he posted a photo of the Las Vegas strip and quoted the thoughts of Pulse Nightclub Owner, Babara Poma, in regard to the horrific incident. Shortly afterward, a fan suggested that he donate blood, and he responded back truthfully, stating, “I can’t. I’m gay.”
Bass was joined by other LGBTQ+ celebrities, as well as gay and bisexual men in the community, in his efforts to speak out against the FDA’s restrictions. Not only do these restrictions shed light on the exhausting stereotype surrounding gay and bisexual men and HIV/AIDS as the ban originated in 1983 at the start of the AIDS epidemic, but a 2014 report by the Williams Institute (click here) found that removing the ban entirely on men who sleep with men (MSM) would save an estimated 1.8 million more lives each year by increasing the total blood supply in the United States by 2-4% per year.
“…and I’m gonna do all these things. Except give blood. I would but I can’t. I’m a gay American.” - Jeffery Self, Actor & Author
“…it’s 2017 and gay men still can’t donate blood.” - Robbie Roselle, Director & Writer
“It infuriates me that gay & bisexual men can be turned away from donating blood in Las Vegas because of the @US_FDA’s discriminatory policy.” - Shane Bitney Crone, LGBTQ+ Rights Activist
***FreedomTwoLove continues to extend its sincerest condolences to the families of those lost, injured, and the city of Las Vegas as a whole!