Alan Cumming's "Celibacy Challenge" Takes On the FDA's Absurd Ban on Gay Blood

When a man with the last name "Cumming" is talking about sex, it's time to listen up.

Cabaret star Alan Cumming has released a troll-ific public service announcement to lambast the Food and Drug Administration's revamped blood donor policy for gay and bisexual men, which only allows donations from men who have abstained from sex for an entire year. The 12-month mandate is due to the fact that "compelling scientific evidence is not available at this time to support a change to a deferral period less than one year while still ensuring the safety of the blood supply," according to an FDA statement to the New York Times. It's an unrealistic expectation that's not placed on any other minority group and contributes to a nationwide blood shortage by barring (nearly) all men who have sex with men from donating blood.

Enter Cumming. His tongue-in-cheek campaign, the "Celibacy Challenge," dares dudes to not have sex for a year. Instead, partake in other totally not phallic-inspired activities, like working out with the Shake Weight or clean cylinder-shaped trophies. See, it's easy!

Get educated:

Source: YouTube

The video ends with an important point. "Or there's another option," concedes Cumming, since asking a gay or bi dude, or anyone, to not have sex for a whole year is preposterous. "No matter who you are, you can save lives," he says.

Behind the video: The video was produced by advocacy organizations, including GLAAD and the Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC). The groups have been vocal in pushing the FDA for a revamped screening system that checks donors' risk on HIV transmission, rather than their sexual orientation or gender identity.

"Stereotypes have no place in saving lives," GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said in a release. "The FDA's proposed change still means that countless gay and bisexual men will be turned away from blood banks simply because of who they are."

The video is one part of a broader campaign to eliminate the FDA's medically unsound system, which not only bans men who have had sex with men in the past year, but women who have had sex with men who have had sex with men. (See how complicated it is?) The bigger issue here is saving lives, which is what the Celibacy Challenge is encouraging. 

"Since the early days of the epidemic, GMHC has witnessed firsthand how fear, stigma and discrimination have fueled the spread of HIV," GMHC CEO Kelsey Louie said in the release. He decried the alleged revised policy as fanning the flames "of the outdated stereotype that HIV is only a 'gay disease.'" 

Despite the video only being out for a few hours, it's already raising awareness of the outdated policy.

"The Alan Cumming GLAAD/GMHC video is the funniest thing I've seen today," a fan tweeted. "But points to a continuing injustice & stupidity on part of the FDA."

This article has been updated.

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Jordan Valinsky

Jordan is a writer at the Live News desk. He's previously written for The Week, Betabeat, The Daily Dot and CNN.com.

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