Thursday, June 21, 2012

My first arrest. Ever. Yesterday. In Bloomington, Indiana, USA.

Posting this update is probably not the wisest move from a legal standpoint, and perhaps in the next few days (tomorrow?) once I retain legal counsel, I will be advised to remove it, but in the meantime, here goes, very briefly.

Yesterday I saw a Red Cross bloodmobile on the Indiana University campus, right outside the building where I work. I wasn't born yesterday. I know that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not allow any United States-based blood bank to accept blood donations from and men who, since 1977 have had sexual contact, even once, with other men, whether it be protected sex or not. But I wanted to make a point.

I went in, waited for my turn, had my blood pressure and hemoglobin checked, and proceded to answer a computerized questionnaire. When it was reviewed by the Red Cross employee, I was told that because I answered the question about having had sex with other men the way I did, I would be deferred indefinitely from donating blood. 

I, in turn, told her that she was in violation of the Indiana University nondiscrimination policy, which, among others, prohibits banning any person from participating in university activities on the basis of sexual orientation. She called another Red Cross employee, who in turn called another Red Cross employee, who in turn called Indiana University Police.

Two police officers arrived at the bloodmobile, refusing to listen to anything I had to say. They grabbed me, refused to read me my rights under Miranda, even when I explicitly asked them to (they eventually did, after I was handcuffed and placed in the police car), and only told me I was under arrest after I asked them whether I was.

I later learned from one of the officers that one of the Red Cross employees (he referred to her as a "nurse") accused me of spitting at her. That is a false accusation. But in the State of Indiana, spitting at someone is considered "battery," and the mere charge of battery warrants placing the person arrested for that charge in custody for 24 hours. 

I will spare you the details of my experience in Monroe County Jail. That, in and of its own, is worth a short story, which I currently lack the patience to write. But yes, I spent 24 hours in jail. And I now face three misdemeanor charges (battery, resisting law enforcement and disorderly conduct).

In other words, I am being put on trial for another person's homophobia.


  1. I did the same thing when I was in college a few years back, but the lady I talked to seemed embarrassed about it and I think she felt bad having to turn down somebody who wanted to help, as I still got the 'I gave blood today' t-shirt.

    Good luck, hopefully this goes away without much trouble for you.

  2. Wow that's terrible. It's crazy that the FDA still have standards such as that..

    On a total side note, police are (contrary to popular belief) not required to read you a Miranda warning before arresting you - however everything you say or offer up before that warning is issued cannot be used to incriminate you in a court of law.


  4. Uri, I am sorry to hear about your discriminatory experience with the Gay Blood Ban. I just want you to know that many of us are working to ensure this unjustified institutionalized homophobia comes to an end.

    I urge you to visit Saving Lives With Helpful Guys. ( This website is an educational resource center for policy directors, civil rights activists, students, members of the medical community, and the public at large who are dedicated to safely and sensibly reforming the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Gay Blood Ban.

  5. Thank you for being so brave. As a gay man, I am humbled and amazed to hear stories like this. I hope this has a happy ending.