Lifting the gay marriage ban was a huge stride for Americans politically and socially, but discrimination still exists, especially in the realm of blood donation. In an attempt to slowly undo the 1983 ban that keeps gay and bisexual males from donating blood, the FDA is considering a new policy that will allow gay males to donate as long as they’ve been celibate for a full year. In response to this policy (slated to go into effect this month), artist Jordan Eagles has created a sculpture he’s calling “Blood Mirror.” The piece, as its name suggests, is a 7-foot-tall massive mirrored sculpture painted with the blood of nine male gay donors whose blood could have been used to save lives, had the ban been lifted.
Eagles gathered a diverse group of men to participate in the project, including 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) and 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”; a married transgender male couple, and a bisexual father of two.
As viewers stare at their reflections in the bloody slab, the sculpture becomes a time capsule of sorts, documenting the discriminatory policies currently in place within our society. “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,” Eagles told the Huffington Post.
According to researchers at UCLA’s Williams Institute, if gay men were allowed to donate blood, 360,600 men would come forward to give blood, adding an extra 615,300 pints of blood available for infusions every year. They’ve estimated that lifting the ban could save an upwards of one million lives annually. That’s a whole lot of blood, and a whole lot of reasons to protest.