Responses by Eduardo Balloussier and Luiz Guimarães, creatives, FCB Health
Background: Today, gay and bisexual men around the world are banned from donating blood. Many countries allow donation only after men promise to be celibate for one full year (a defacto lifetime ban). Working with the New York City–based nonprofit and community-based AIDS service organization Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC), “Blood Equality: Blood Flags” fights this discriminatory focus that tells gay and bi men they are not worthy. It’s time for science—not stigma—to rule.
Reasoning: To shine a light on the discrimination gay and bi men face all over the world. Our message: picking and choosing certain LGBTQIA rights while ignoring others is not actual support. For example, 26 countries support marriage equality, yet only five countries allow gay and bi men to donate blood without a celibacy deferral. “Blood Flags” was created to unify people around this issue.
Challenges: Raising awareness about a not-quite-top-of-the-list LGBTQIA issue. But we passionately believe that a little bit of discrimination is unacceptable, and can have chilling effects.
Favorite details: FCB Health and the GMHC have been fighting the blood ban for more than two years. Blood Equality has been massively successful as an effort, sparking attention, and being featured at the Civil Rights Institute in Birmingham, Alabama. And, we have helped generate the scientific partnership we desired, forming a Medical Advisory Board that today includes the U.S. government. Its goal is to generate the scientific debate and research required to overturn the ban.
Visual influences: The pride flag was the centerpiece of our team’s inspiration. The colors are meant to symbolize and unify, yet the colors of the country flags in which LGBTQIA men remain stigmatized sits in sharp contrast to the strength of the pride flag. While each of the individual country flags are shaped like a blood bag, the exposed thread and stitching help show the hypocrisy of “kind of” LGBTQIA support.
Anything new: As we looked towards this year’s World Blood Donor Day on June 14, 2018, we realized that this issue remained largely in the shadows. We were surprised that a truly global view of seemingly “local” issues was never developed. Discrimination is, unfortunately, something experienced around the globe. We decided to leverage the print ads to try and raise more attention for those impacted everywhere.