“Blood Flags” addresses the conditional support that many countries show toward the LGBTQ community in preserving and promoting its rights. Many countries, including the U.S., Australia, Canada, Brazil and Germany, endorse the fight for equality in marriage, schools, the workplace and housing, yet discriminatory criteria for blood donation remain. FCB Health and GMHC thus created “Blood Flags” to bring attention to this disparity and inspire reform.
“We’re very proud to collaborate with GMHC and deepen our dedication to shedding light on issues of blood equality and civil rights, which remain critical,” said Rich Levy, chief creative officer of FCB Health. “This creative partnership provides us with an important – and unique – platform to advocate for policy reform, change behavior and make a lasting difference through our work.”
This initiative specifically confronts the U.S. government’s flawed revision to the lifetime ban on gay, bisexual and transgender male blood donors, which now requires a 12-month period of celibacy prior to donation. A UCLA Williams Institute study revealed that lifting this ban altogether could save up to a million lives annually. This kind of discrimination – which has been shown to hold no real scientific basis – is not just domestic, but can be found all over the world.
“We want to restore the fundamental right to donate blood, and make it a more equitable process across the board,” remarked Kelsey Louie, CEO of GMHC. “Current donation policies stem from fear and outdated stigmas surrounding sexual orientation, when they should instead be based solely on testing and scientific risk assessments.”
“Blood Flags,” a creative installation, meticulously stitches the individual, aforementioned country flags – shaped like blood bags – onto the rainbow Pride flag. This altering of the traditional flag design, compounded with the use of exposed thread and stitching, powerfully brings to life the juxtaposition between LGBTQ Pride and discrimination. Ultimately, these flags aim to highlight cultural hypocrisy as a call to action, and unite these countries in an effort to advance blood equality on a larger scale.
“Blood Flags is meant to resonate globally,” said Mike Devlin, executive vice president and group creative director of FCB Health. “Last year’s launch of One in Our Blood at the Civil Rights Institute in Birmingham, featuring the Blood Mirror installation by artist Jordan Eagles – which allowed viewers to physically see themselves reflected in the blood of gay, bisexual and transgender men encased in resin – was just the beginning. We hope that our latest installment of this initiative will continue to weave a powerful narrative and inspire change on a more universal level.”
“Blood Flags” will be launched across FCB Health’s social channels (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn) and others throughout the network, gearing up for World Blood Donor Day on June 14. The stitched flags have been shared with a wide range of LGBTQ media, and will be featured at Pride events and GMHC headquarters, with plans to raise awareness across the globe throughout the upcoming year.