Game of Thrones and American Red Cross are asking fans to “Bleed For the Throne” to get a t-shirt and a chance to win a trip to the final season premiere, but FDA guidelines state men can’t have sex with other men for 12 months before donating blood.
“It’s kind of a bummer. Here’s this really great prize, but you can’t have it because you’re gay,” Erich Hazen, a Game of Thrones fan from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, told The Daily Beast.
The partnership will include an immersive experience at the South by Southwest conference from March 7–9, in addition to blood drives in 43 states and 9 colleges and universities across the U.S. from March 7–12 according to a Feb. 19 press release.
SXSW is an annual conglomerate of film, interactive media, music festivals, and conferences that take place in mid-March in Austin, Texas.
Fans who show up to donate before March 12 would receive an exclusive "Bleed For The Throne" t-shirt, while supplies last. Additionally, those who participate in a blood donation at any Red Cross blood drive by March 17 will be entered to win a trip to the season 8 world premiere of Game of Thrones.
The FDA guidelines that state men cannot have sex with other men for 12 months before giving blood also applies to women who have been sexually active with bi men. Regardless, all samples are tested by the FDA for a number of infectious diseases, including HIV.
Fans of the show were quick to voice their frustration with the competition.
“Some of us with healthy, tested, O-neg blood are ready and willing to bleed for the throne AND our real-life fellow human beings,” Twitter user HomoPoliticus posted on Feb. 26. “Except our healthy, tested, O-neg blood is considered too dirty and too gay and therefore forbidden.”
Some of us with healthy, tested, O-neg blood are ready and willing to bleed for the throne AND our real-life fellow human beings.— HomoPoliticus (@HomoPoliticus2) February 27, 2019
Except our healthy, tested, O-neg blood is considered too dirty and too gay and therefore forbidden. 🤷🏻♂️ https://t.co/5GdzZxzugn
The policy began in 1983 when the FDA at first placed a lifetime ban on gay and bisexual men at the start of the HIV epidemic.
In 2015, it was amended to the current 12-month deferral, which was tested following the Pulse Nightclub Shooting in 2016 when numerous members of the queer community found themselves barred from donating blood.
“It bothers me that my perfect, healthy gay blood isn’t a viable option unless I abstain from sex for 12 months, and that’s not gonna happen,” 29-year-old Joe Stanieich-Burke told The Daily Beast. “I consider this a right for gay men that is going widely unnoticed.”
The American Red Cross has since said in a statement to The Daily Beast that people who are turned away can participate in the national contest by contacting the Red Cross Donor Support Center.