The Freedom To Donate campaign and UK artist Conor Collins launched the Awareness Week by displaying a portrait of Alan Turing made from gay men’s blood. The campaign stands for the right of gay men to donate blood, as currently the regulations in England, Wales and Scotland ban men who have sex with men to do so.
According Dr. Christian Jessen there is no reason why gay men who want to donate blood must abstain from sex one year before donating: “From a medical point of view, there is no reason why the deferral period for gay and bisexual men is set at 12 months.” Yet the rules haven’t changed and Freedom To Donate is meant to bring awareness of the non-existent danger that prohibits gay men to donate blood that could save lives.
Artist Conor Collins was inspired to contribute to this campaign by creating a portrait of a historical figure of the world and a gay person. Alan Turing built the foundations of modern computing and he saved million lives during WWII to later be convicted for having sex with another man.
Collins explained why he thought of Alan Turing when he decided to create this portrait:
“The first thing is that he anonymously through his actions saved the lives potentially of millions and millions of people,” Collins said.
“And when you donate you anonymously save the life of someone you’ve never met and who you’ll maybe never meet.
“The second thing is that Alan Turing, despite all the actions and great things he did, if he was alive today he wouldn’t be allowed to donate blood either.”
Almost all the blood that Collins used is from medical professionals who, because of their sexual orientation cannot donate blood:
“With the exception of one person, all the blood in the painting is from GPs, surgeons, nurses. They’re all medical professionals who, because of who they are, can’t donate blood,” the artist said.
“One of them was a heart surgeon and you literally trust him to open you up and hold your heart in his hands and yet we apparently, according to the law, don’t trust him to donate blood.”
The art piece was unveiled at the Houses of Parliament on Monday and its main purpose is to change a system where people cannot donate blood to save lives because of their sexual orientation. The painting is very representative for the LGBT community, as Alan Turing is proof of how wrongly society looked at homosexuality during mid-20th Century despite the value and innovation this man brought to humanity.