2. Our Blood Can Save at the Major R. Owens Health & Wellness Community Center

World War II poster graphic soliciting blood donations
World War II poster graphic soliciting blood donations. Courtesy of Isabel Vila (BerlinRosen).

On March 4th and 5th from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., at the Major R. Owens Health & Wellness Community Center, artist Jordan Eagles will debut Our Blood Can Save Them, an art installation created with blood donated by gay, bisexual, and queer men. Our Blood Can Save Them aims to call attention to the FDA’s discriminatory policies for donating blood based on sexual orientation. Currently, FDA policy dictates that gay or bisexual men must abstain from sex for a minimum of three months before being able to donate blood, with no similar requirement for sexual intercourse between partners of the opposite sex. The installation’s collection of donated blood will be preserved in resin and imaged blood panels placed on an overhead projector to illuminate the blood’s light shadows and patterns onto the surrounding walls, ceiling, architecture, and viewers. 

In addition, a central projection featuring a 1943 World War II poster graphic soliciting blood donations will be on display — connecting to the historic innovations of blood storage, which were invented during the war by Black surgeon and researcher Dr. Charles R. Drew. Though Dr. Drew’s blood storage techniques were used to successfully collect blood in New York City hospitals and export plasma to support the Allied efforts, he eventually resigned in protest over the racial segregation of blood.

Included in the image is blood donated by an active U.S. Service Member who identifies as transgender and pansexual, forcing audience members to consider the problematic role of gender identification in blood donation policy. Viewers will also be encouraged to have their portrait taken by the artist with blood patterns projected onto them as a gesture of solidarity with the movement fighting against the FDA’s policy and to show their willingness to receive blood from the LGBTQ+ community should the need ever arise. Accompanying the installation will be a blood drive, hosted in partnership with the New York Blood Center at Brooklyn Pride Community Center on March 4, 2022, from 2:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.